ORT training projects propel South Africa to a better future


20 March 2008 ORT training projects propel South Africa to a better future Generations of underprivileged South Africans stand to benefit thanks to mathematics, science and technology training courses that ORT South Africa is providing for teachers in impoverished communities on the outskirts of Johannesburg. In addition to the life-enhancing opportunities that individual children will enjoy thanks to ORT bringing quality education in vital subjects to Alexandra and Soweto, there is prospect that such programmes will contribute to South Africas long term goals of higher economic growth and lower unemployment. As Phala Modise, of Citadel Investment Services, said at the launch of the Soweto Educator Empowerment Programme, which Citadel co-sponsors with fellow wealth management group Peregrine: We need to produce more engineers, entrepreneurs, accountants and doctors; maths and science are important foundation subjects to produce the desired skills that underpin economic growth. In ORT South Africa, we have found a partner with global experience who has not only met, but exceeded, our expectations. The ORT SA project will offer courses and workshops for 90 educators from 17 school in Soweto which became known around the world for its uprising against apartheid in 1976 at the Makhoarane Primary School in cooperation with the Gauteng Department of Education. ORT SA Director Michael Sieff, said: In line with our philosophy that independence and dignity are the ultimate gifts, ORT undertakes to make these schools strong, self-sufficient and capable of delivering to a level of excellence. We will then move on and empower more schools in the same way. There is an enormous need not only to upgrade the knowledge and skills of the educators but to facilitate a paradigm shift amongst educators in the learning areas of mathematics and technology. In nearby Alexandra the township where Nelson Mandela lived as a young man ORT SA has the backing of the Bidvest international services, trading and distribution company for the training of Foundation Phase educators in maths, science and technology teaching. By strengthening teaching in these fields, ORT SA will lay a solid foundation for improved matriculation results and an increase in the number of young people seeking maths, science or technology-related careers. The demands made on teachers in the Foundation Phase classroom are extensive, Mr Sieff (pictured, right, at the project launch) said. Within that difficult space, we are challenging teachers to grow and possibly to change their approach to teaching. We are preparing to take them on a journey of discovery and build their confidence as they increase their knowledge of maths and strengthen their teaching skills. The Alexandra project, which is being implemented in close cooperation with the Gauteng Department of Education, is based on the experience gained by ORT SA through an intervention programme it started in the township in 2004. In that time, ORT SA trained 75 Foundation Phase educators from 11 local schools in maths and science, benefiting some 10,000 students. ORT SA has also embarked on a 12-month training project to supply the financial sector with competent, confident and well-equipped staff. The project is backed by FASSET the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) for Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting and other Financial Services which has ensured the placement of 100 learners into the finance sector. At ORTs Johannesburg training centre, Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) students and graduates from underprivileged areas will undergo a five-week work readiness programme to equip them with skills that will supplement their technical knowledge and enable them to succeed in high stress corporate environments. This course prepares candidates for success and creates individuals who are equipped to be tomorrows leaders, said Mr Sieff. Although they possess the technical skills they are unsure of the expectations of the employer and what their potential should be. Unlike some training programmes, this initiative provides a positive exit opportunity for the learners ensuring they gain real benefits.