-

Energize SA’s future development depends on its engineers
- Advertisment -

SA’s future development depends on its engineers

- Advertisment -

South Africans expect to drive on safe roads, cross bridges safely, and have clean, drinkable water flowing from their taps. They expect the lights to go on when they flip a switch and be able to go online at any time. These, and other modern facilities, are only made possible by the engineers and technicians who design, construct, install and maintain them.

Chris Campbell, CESA CEO

One of the principal reasons for poor service delivery and failing infrastructure at municipal level in South Africa is the fact that of the 257 municipalities in the country, only 55 have engineers leading their technical departments, according to COGTA. It is concerning that people who are entrusted with managing public infrastructure lack the basic competencies and don’t understand the roles played by built environment professionals.

The unfortunate reality is that South Africa has too few of these highly skilled individuals to meet the needs of the country. A few years ago, it was reported that South Africa had one such individual per 3000 citizens, compared to more developed countries which had one for every 200 citizens.

This ratio is only going to get worse unless something is done urgently to fix the country’s education system so that more young people receive requisite early childhood development and the subsequent grounding in mathematics and science from basic education levels.

We need a programme which will enable and encourage young people to pursue a career in engineering. We also need to help people see the value engineers add to society, especially in the provision of basic services.

While some effort to address this issue has been made over the past few years, statistics on national trends in mathematics performance between 2011 and 2018 show no change in the percentage of students who wrote Grade 12 mathematics exams.

Although millions of rand have been invested to try to address the problem of poor mathematics exam results, over the past eight years schools have not managed to get more than 45% of learners to the stage of being able to write the Grade 12 mathematics exams. Of those, only about 4% achieve marks above 70%.

While this may get someone into a university’s engineering degree programme, there is a slim chance of that individual’s successful graduation without extensive support and assistance. A lot has to be done to dramatically increase this percentage so that appropriately skilled experts could be appointed to oversee and maximise the sustainability of national and municipal infrastructure the country needs to support sustainable economic growth.

It is a fallacy to believe that fast-tracking the professional registration process will make up for this shortage, as our problem is that we have failed to invest adequately in teaching children the basic principles of mathematics and science, and have thereby failed to “grow our own timber”, which is robbing us now of the “feedstock” of well-versed, trainable individuals we need for a career in professional engineering.

Clearly a lot has to be done to change this situation. Using the same approach which has been used over the last eight years will not change anything. We cannot expect different results if we keep doing the same thing year after year.

We have a choice: We can either address the pipeline issues by improving the way in which young children are taught the principles of mathematics and science or resign ourselves to having to import people with the skills we need. A third alternative is never having the number of graduate engineers that the country needs, with all of the associated risks.

Engineers are, by nature and as a result of their training, problem solvers. This is a call to engineers to promote their professions and encourage educationalists to develop systems which will create more engineers for the future development of South Africa.

Send your comments to energize@ee.co.za

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles

Local branch opened in Limpopo

Hytec South Africa, a member of the Bosch Rexroth South Africa Group, officially opened its new branch in Lephalale, Limpopo in January 2020. The...

LED lighting controlled by a solar inverter

IMEON Energy announces the release of the LED Smart Lighting application (app) which enables its inverters to interact with smart LED lights from the...

EU plans the energy system of the future

Information from the European Commission  -   To become climate-neutral by 2050, Europe needs to transform its energy system, which accounts for 75% of the EU's...

Industry association appoints new board

The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) appointed a new board at its recent Annual General Meeting (AGM). SAPVIA is an industry body which...

Popular fuel brand launches contactless fuel-payment app

Engen has announced the arrival of the new Engen 1app, which offers motorists a safe and conveniently contactless way to pay for fuel at its...

Covid-19 calls for “balanced” strategy for technical audits

Engineering projects face a growing range of audits, assessment and monitoring, but will Covid-19 restrictions on movement make it difficult for consultants to carry...

Alternator for cogeneration applications

Nidec Leroy-Somer announces the launch of the LSAH 44.3, an alternator designed for cogeneration applications in district heating. This new alternator incorporates an optimised...

Rapeseed natural ester fluid for EHV transformer

TransnetBW, a German electricity transmission operator, recently ordered a power transformer from Siemens. The specification called for the transformer to be filled with natural...

Natural gas to experience largest demand shock on record

Information from the International Energy Agency  -   Natural gas is expected to experience its largest demand shock on record in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic...

Coal for primary energy on the wane

Quoting the Yomiuri daily newspaper, Reuters reports that Japan is planning to suspend or close as many as 100 ageing and inefficient coal-fired power...

Hitachi ABB Power Grids commences operations

Complementary portfolios and technology strengths to ensure continuity, enhance customer value and bring growth opportunities. In accordance with the agreement signed on 17 December...

Energy efficiency: Still the low-hanging fruit

by Fereidoon P. Sioshansi, Ph.D, Menlo Energy -  Efficient use of energy is the key to a low carbon future. “In the battle against climate...

Wind and hydrogen offer potential to drive exports market

Information from the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) The opportunity for South Africa to couple its renewable energy economic stimulus to non-electricity prospects, presents...

Carbon tax regulations regarding allowances and premiums

by Paula-Ann Novotny and Gillian Niven, Webber Wentzel On 19 June 2020, Tito Mboweni, the minister of finance, finalised the next set of regulatory mechanisms...

Battery packs for mobility and back-up power

In addition to supplying lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery packs for forklifts in materials-handling applications, Chase Technologies is also ramping up supply to ancillary...
- Advertisement -