Civil Engineering May 2022 | Vol 30 No 4

Civil Engineering May 2022 51 P ROTEC is a flourishing 40-year-old edu- cation NPO that was started in 1982 in Soweto by visionary SAICE engineers and activists to provide opportunities for black high school learners to succeed in STEM careers. Today, PROTEC (Programme for Technological Careers) is a national independent organisation with a strong track record in providing holistic, high-quality education and career support programmes in mathematics, science, technology, English, and world of work life skills training, as well as impactful teacher support programmes. Balan Moodley, CEO of PROTEC, says few disadvantaged scholars pass or even take the key gateway matric subjects of mathematics and science. “This means they tend to finish their school years with no opportunity to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology fields. PROTEC’s vision has always been to empower these young South Africans who have the requisite potential with optimal education and life skills to succeed in STEM-based careers.” PROTEC consistently delivers measurable results, with achieve- ments that include: Q Q More than 30 000 disadvantaged learners have successfully passed through the PROTEC programme since 1982 and are now qualified engineers, doctors, scientists, technologists in wide-ranging fields, actuaries, educators and other profes- sional people Q Q A matric pass rate that is on average 20% higher than the national average Q Q A consistently high bachelor pass rate Q Q About 75% of PROTEC learners pursue engineering, science or technology courses at tertiary level. THE EARLY DAYS PROTEC launched in Soweto in 1982 with 67 students, and the early success of the project led to PROTEC’s expansion into a national programme that includes a teacher development and support programme. David Kramer, PROTEC’s second CEO, joined the young NGO in 1984, working closely with PROTEC’s first CEO, Lente- Louise Louw, until he took over from her in 1988. Kramer had qualified as an investment analyst, but as an anti-apartheid ac- tivist he wanted to do more for the development of the country’s black youth. After teaching in Soweto, he joined PROTEC in 1984 as the manager of the Soweto branch. He explains how the organisation was established by Lente- Louise Louw, a clinical psychologist and activist, together with other like-minded people. “Lente-Louise was good friends with Cliff MacMillan, a civil engineer who was con- cerned about the lack of black engineers in South Africa as a direct result of apartheid policies. They mustered the forces, particularly SAICE which was PROTEC’s first funding partner. Together they succeeded in establishing PROTEC to provide mathematics and science support to young, high potential black high school children to enable them to join the world of engineering.” From the start, the PROTEC team delivered excellent matric results due to painstaking at- tention to detail and a carefully crafted strategy, much of which is still in place today. Kramer took over as CEO in 1988, working alongside communities and funders who rec- ognised the value of and need for a programme that worked with talented youngsters who were educationally sidelined by the government of the time. As PROTEC grew, branches were opened in disadvantaged commu- nities that approached PROTEC to implement its programme locally, using a model that required the branches to have their own governing boards and funding. “PROTEC has always had the will and the way to survive. In the 80s we were one of six national NGOs delivering STEM education services to disadvantaged youngsters, although with differing models. We opened branches across the country, but then when we became a democratic country, many funders pulled their support on the understanding that NGOs would now be able to work with the new government,” says Kramer. It didn’t take long for PROTEC to be the only NGO in its field that survived, which Kramer attributes to the model of self-governing and self-funding branches with a national office leading and delivering content and governance. “This is a model that has the capacity and flexibility to adapt to the needs of the specific communities they serve.” Following the demise of apartheid, PROTEC began working with national and provincial departments of education. Kramer himself served on the Minister of Education’s National Curriculum Revision Technical Committee from 1997, and he chaired the national department’s Technology 2005 project which introduced technology education into the national curriculum. PROTEC still enjoys a healthy relationship with SAICE, which has a representative on the PROTEC Board of Directors. In addi- tion, Fannie Matumba, PROTEC’s GM Operations, participates in the SAICE meeting with HODs of various universities in South Africa. In 2019 and 2020 the then-presidents of SAICE, Brian Downie and Fana Marutla, were guest speakers at the PROTEC AGMs. Downie was also guest speaker at the PROTEC Learner Awards held in Mount Edgecombe. PROTEC celebrates 40 years of building success in STEM careers David Kramer, PROTEC’s second CEO from 1988 to 2004 Educat i on and tra i n i ng