Our Saturday Schools are raising key skills in South Africa
Ntsako Masangu is the first member of her family to become an engineer. She is one of more than 1,200 students who have benefited from our Saturday Schools Programme in South Africa over the past 10 years.
The aim of these schools is to improve the marks of scholars in mathematics, science and engineering to help under-privileged students gain university places in technical subjects. All the teachers are volunteers from among our own engineers, technicians and academic staff who give up their time on Saturday mornings to take classes.
Lack of skills
The initiative is vitally important. Across the world there is a shortage of engineering graduates, and the problem is particularly acute in South Africa. Development in the country rests on an ability to build much-needed infrastructure but lack of skills threatens to constrain its future economic sustainability.
Royal HaskoningDHV has a long history in South Africa, dating back to 1922. Today our South African operation is second only to the Netherlands in terms of size, and we employ more than 1,000 staff.
This heritage and our commitment to give back to society triggered our desire to initiate the Saturday Schools Programme in 2007 to play an active role in reversing the skills deficit. From a single class in 2007, we now tutor some 150 students a year at six centres around the country. We can measure results in numbers – for example, 54 of our students gained university places for last year’s intake – but just as inspiring are the individual tales of what Saturday Schools mean to our students and tutors.
Ntsako Masangu is a former Saturday School student now employed by Royal HaskoningDHV in Johannesburg: “My journey through university was amazing. I enjoyed being a student and working during vacations. I gained a lot of experience that affirmed my decision to be an engineer. The support I received from staff was incredible, they all showed genuine interest in how my studies were proceeding and offered to help when required. My staff mentor enabled me to always be a step ahead in terms of what lay ahead in my career. Being sponsored for my undergraduate degree by Royal HaskoningDHV has had a really positive impact on my family. I am the first in my family to pursue this career, and they are proud to have an engineer for a daughter. Corporate Social Initiatives like our Saturday Schools Programme are essential and important. There are many South African citizens without work because of the lack of money for education.”
Jacob Modise is one of the Saturday School tutors: “We are helping kids in the school to become better people. I try to show them the way forward, the right way. This initiative is also important to change the perceptions of the guys around this location. Some of the kids we had in previous years come back during the holidays and give back to the community by teaching these other ones, who benefit from being taught by people they can relate to, who can talk to them and who understand their difficulties. I think that this can grow because guys from here become strong leaders who others will follow.”