As from 1 January 2022, the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology (EBIT) has embarked on a new Adopt a School project as a way of giving back to the community.
This project, recently launched at Phathudi Comprehensive School in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, derived from a new Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Ambassador Programme launched by the IEEE TryEngineering organisation to recognise IEEE volunteers for their contribution to STEM education.
As part of the project, the Faculty will also assist the school with various resources, such as resuscitating a computer centre, a go green project in collaboration with ENGAGE, a mentorship programme to offer basic computer training to learners at the school and assist them with the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists and other projects. The University’s Junior Tukkie programme has also drawn up a service-level agreement with the school to join the Junior Tukkie initiative and use the Junior Tukkie online platform for Grade 8 to 12 learners.
During a visit to the school, Prof Hein Venter, Head of the UP Department of Computer Science, said: ‘We are excited to be here today. I would like to reiterate that the EBIT Faculty is proud of its recent partnership with the school. We look forward to further investing in this school and we are delighted that Primrose Jabulile Shongwe, one of its learners who received a bursary from the Faculty through her participation in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, joined the University this year. We hope that as an alumna of this school, Shongwe will, on completion of her studies, return to motivate other learners—female learners in particular—to choose STEM career paths.’
Estie Powell: EBIT Chief Marketing and Communications, stated: ‘We are passionate about enriching the lives of others. We look forward to broadening the horizons of learners who are eager to learn about their roles in innovation and change, and are extremely proud of the Adopt a School project.’
The Faculty of EBIT was one of only a few faculties in Africa to feature among the top 500 in the world in six subject areas in the 2021 QS World University Rankings by Subject, and in the field of engineering and technology UP’s School of Engineering is ranked 356th out of more than 10 000 engineering schools. EBIT’s programmes in electrical and electronic engineering also continue to feature among the top programmes offered by South African universities.
During a meeting held with Mr Willie Mkhwanazi, the headmaster of the Phathudi Comprehensive School, the acting dean of EBIT, Prof Jan Eloff, said: ‘EBIT can only benefit from the Adopt a School project as our participation exposes our own students and staff to a project that can potentially make a real impact in society.’
The following are among the objectives the Faculty hopes to achieve with this project:
- To reach pre-university students in disadvantaged communities
- To offer mentorship programmes that will assist learners and prepare them for higher education
- To create opportunities for learners that would otherwise not have been available, for example through access to information
- To cultivate and maintain beneficial relationships with educators and the principal of this school and others in the surrounding areas
- To support the school by providing basic resources, such as a computer training centre, and offering training
- To give learners an opportunity to participate in the EBIT Faculty events, such as the EBIT Week and EBIT Open Day
- To recruit suitable prospective students for the Faculty and the University of Pretoria in general
- To encourage learners to make the University of Pretoria, especially the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, their tertiary institution and faculty of choice
- To assist learners with the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists projects and offer them support throughout the competition
- To create awareness about Faculty programmes and assist learners to make sound and informed career choices
- To increase the number of female students who are interested in the fields of engineering, the built environment and information technology.