Over the past month Royal HaskoningDHV has held celebrations across the country to mark 10 years of investing in education through their Saturday Schools programme. It is said a nation that fails to invest in its youth fails to invest in its future. This was the motivating factor for Royal HaskoningDHV’s Saturday Schools programme in South Africa that was launched in 2007 when the dearth of engineering students became apparent. To date the programme has benefitted more than 1,400 learners.
Pauline Makama, CSI Manager at Royal HaskoningDHV South Africa, states, “The aim of our Saturday Schools initiative is to improve the marks of scholars in mathematics, science and engineering graphics and design to help under-privileged students gain university places in technical subjects”. “The initiative is vitally important,” says Makama. “Across the world there is a shortage of engineering graduates, and the problem is particularly acute in South Africa”.
As a developing country, South Africa’s requirements for infrastructure development through innovation has created a demand for engineers to help speed up the development process. Together with stakeholders, Royal HaskoningDHV has an important role to play in creating an environment where economic inclusion is a key requirement. The need for inclusion has been a major focal point and is featured extensively in the National Development Plan (NDP). The Royal HaskoningDHV’s Saturday Schools programme supports under-privileged communities with the aim of creating a level playing field and giving everyone a chance to participate in the economy which ultimately translates into the building of better communities.
From school to university
Royal HaskoningDHV has had many Saturday School success stories over the years with learners progressing from school to university, being taken on as interns and some finally becoming employed by the company as engineers while others have become doctors and scientists. One of the beneficiaries of the programme is Ntsako Masangu who has completed the full cycle and currently works as an engineer in Royal HaskoningDHV’s Johannesburg office. Ntsako started out as a Saturday Schools pupil who went on to receive a bursary from the company for her engineering studies. Upon completing her studies, she was taken on as an intern and was eventually employed as an engineer. Ntsako is now a Saturday Schools tutor and gives back by spending her Saturdays tutoring pupils, something she takes great pride in. Ntsako says her journey through university was amazing and she enjoyed being a student while working during vacations. “I gained a lot of experience that affirmed my decision to become an engineer,” she states. The young civil engineer says the support she received from staff at Royal HaskoningDHV was incredible and they all showed a genuine interest in how her studies were progressing.
Royal HaskoningDHV’s employees appreciate the need to improve the matric pass rate for maths, science and technical drawing and are therefore willing to sacrifice their time to provide free tuition to learners. Teachers are drawn from the professional staff of Royal HaskoningDHV's offices in South Africa. They are primarily university graduates currently performing scientific, academic and technical functions where the application of mathematic calculations, scientific formulae and technical drawing are performed on a daily basis in the execution of their duties.From humble beginnings Royal HaskoningDHV’s Saturday Schools are now held in numerous schools across South Africa, in Alexandra, Soshanguve, Cape Town, Pinetown, Pietermaritzburg and Mangaung.