BY REGINALD KANYANE
In a bid to close the skills gaps in the water supply value chain, Water and Sanitation department (DWS) in partnership with Education and Sports Development department, hosted 50 high school learners in Rusternburg.
Twenty eight high schools throughout the North West Province, participated in the Provincial Aqua Enduro Competitions which also incorporated of Take a child to work programme.
Water and Sanitation Department provincial spokesperson, Katlego Mokaila said the main objective of the event was to address the skills shortage in the scientific and engineering disciplines within the water sector at grass roots level.
“The challenge of water scarcity, water loss and lack of technical capacity has maximized awareness capacity building, training and in all corners of the country hence DWS have invested in empowering the country on sustainable water management. This year alone, six North West Province learners have been awarded Tertiary bursaries in Engineering and technical fields and furthermore the Provincial Aqua Enduro competitions will enable more to be awarded the same reward.
“This is in addition to 121 bursaries awarded since the inception of this programme in 2008.The three days event, which comprised of career related presentations, excursions to Water Treatment Works and Waste Water Treatment Works, enabled high school learners to translate their theoretical knowledge into practicality through engaging with engineers, technicians and process controllers at the Treatment Works during the tour including observing how water is purified,” Mokaila said.
She said from all corners of the Province, different schools participated in these activities.
“Schools such as Sol Plaatje, Thutotsebo, Matlhaleng, Dirangkanatla, Tshebedisano,Milner, Borakanelo, Nkangmatlhale, Sewagodimo, Setumo, Barolong, Sefutswelo, Motlhakutseng, Batswana, Mmabatho, Mohare, Thebeyatlhajwa, Matlo secondary school, Rekgaratlhile secondary school, Jerry Mahura secondary , Reabetswe secondary school , Kgosi shupe, Mochusi secondary school, Brey combined, Setswakgosing secondary , Huhudi high, Mankuruane technical , Batlhaping high schools were present.
“Some of the presentations prepared motivated learners to better choose the precise subjects in Tertiary level including understanding the requirements of entry levels of water related studies in Universities that have a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Water and Sanitation. It should also be noted that learners can only qualify for bursaries only if they get an entrance to University. Mathematics and Physical Science is the requirements to study water related Tertiary courses,” Mokaila added.
She said the presentations focused on Gender mainstreaming, water quality, careers in water, health and safety and overall overview of how a Water Service Provider such as Magalies Water operates.
The acting Provincial head of DWS North West Province, Dr Tseliso Ntili encouraged learners to persevere and follow their dreams in the water sector. He said that water affects all of us and the youth as future leaders of tomorrow are the ones to lead the country into the future.
“They have the necessary skills required to ensure sustainable infrastructure and water supply. The Department’s Learning Academy is committed to the effective administration of the youth empowerment programme and that there is provision of an immediate response to the perceived and imminent threat of skills shortages within DWS and the water sector in South Africa.
“DWS also have bursaries and experiential training (Learner Interns). In addition young, inexperienced graduates (Graduate Trainees) are accommodated in a mentoring programme that includes on the job training, active involvement and participation in real time projects,”he said.
Ntili said some of the key stakeholders include Department of Basic Education, Magalies Water and South African Institute of Civil Engineers (SAICE).