PROTEC, a national NPO that has been building successful STEM careers in South Africa since 1982, is closing the year with exciting plans and strategies for expanding the geographic reach, the number of teachers and learners to be impacted, and the range of programmes in PROTEC’s portfolio in forthcoming years.
Balan Moodley, CEO of PROTEC, says that PROTEC can look back with some pride on four decades of successful STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) educational support for learners in disadvantaged schools. “But we are not resting on our laurels for a moment. We are now asking ourselves what we need to do in the next 40 years to ensure even greater success in meeting the dire need for learner and teacher educational support in STEM subjects.”
Moodley says, “Both our existing and new projects highlight the strength of our partnerships with our wide-ranging donor base – without them we would certainly not be in a position to achieve the success we are able to deliver. PROTEC has capacity for nationwide reach, and as our donors are seeing this potential and engaging with us, we are able to provide valuable educational support in STEM fields. This year saw South Africa rejoicing with our indomitable Springbok team as they brought home the Rugby World Cup for the fourth time – under the banner of #StrongerTogether. This is a powerful truism in so many aspects of society, and one that PROTEC is keenly aware of.”
In April 2023, the Trialogue Knowledge Hub reported that, according to the World Economic Forum, “it is critical that learners study STEM subjects in order to create a more employable workforce. Most of the top scarce skills occupations in South Africa are STEM-related. Developing STEM skills is also critical to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly when it comes to boosting the number of women and girls entering STEM-related careers.”
Reflecting on PROTEC’s ‘scorecard’ for 2023, Moodley is upbeat. The organisation:
1. Closed out the large-scale five-year Telkom projects in Garankuwa, Gauteng, and Gqeberha, Eastern Cape as the largest that PROTEC had ever engaged in. It came to an end in 2022 with three matriculants making it onto the PROTEC top 10 matriculants list.
2. Strengthened ties with Wits University’s Engineering Faculty, and started exploring other avenues for collaboration, including a revised teacher development model.
3. Onboarded Abbott Laboratories’ project in Roodepoort for grades 10-12 learners with an aptitude for STEM subjects. An aim of this project is for Abbott to collaborate closely with the learners, introducing them to careers in biochemistry and other relevant careers in the healthcare sector.
4. Onboarded BTE Renewables projects in schools in the Eastern Cape (Adelaide and Bedford) and Northern Cape (Pella and Pofadder), reaching primary and high school learners, and teachers. Here too, the BTE Renewables team is hands on and is supporting all initiatives and exploring new ways of assisting these communities.
5. Celebrated its 40th anniversary with an inaugural and fun Golf Day at Wanderers Golf Club followed by a gala dinner at Protea Hotel Wanderers on 9 June – both of which were heartily enjoyed by all attendees.
6. Is anticipating more positive matric results in January 2024 by the committed and hard-working PROTEC Class of 2023.
7. Embarked on extensive planning for the next four decades, starting with the development of a five-year strategic plan that will be announced and launched early in 2024.
Also early in the new year, PROTEC and donors are finalising various mammoth new projects that will dramatically expand PROTEC’s reach and impact of:
- Teacher development, to ensure teachers are equipped to inspire and educate learners effectively in STEM subjects from Grade 4.
- Learners in earlier grades to encourage and enable a greater number to study STEM subjects from grades 10-12.
- A larger number of learners studying STEM subjects in their final three years of high school.
Moodley adds, “PROTEC has nationwide capability and we welcome anyone and everyone with an interest in building the pool of STEM graduates in South Africa to engage with us – and make a real difference to the future of individual young lives, while also strengthening the country’s economic and social environment. We also once again make a call to the alumni of PROTEC to join us through various levels of engagement with a view to foster the ‘pay it back’ philosophy.”