The History of the
Winter School

On a normal working day, during 2015, Wynand Kotzé and Johan Reyneke discussed the “challenge” young people are facing when they need to make career choices. At that stage both of us had children finishing matric and need to start a study career somewhere.

We decide to launch a technology workshop at Automation Works for 4 or 5 young people of our town for the coming winter holidays around June / July of that year. We visited the two local high schools in our town, Swellendam Secondary and Swellendam High School to invite learners to this workshop at Automation Works.

The interest of young people was so great that we decided to plan a proper technology Winter School in the SSK Lecture Hall in town to accommodate 50 high school learners of grade 11/12. We invited the Engineering Schools of Stellenbosch University, CPUT, CTSE, Festo and Festo Didactic, Siemens and Vega to do a Technology workshop where the learners could get hands on exposure to modern technology.

In summary, we already held this Technology Winter School for the past 4 years in Swellendam as well as an extra one last year at Northpine Technical High in Cape Town, on request of the WCED. We also held three technology Expos at Oakdale, Augsburg and Paarl Boland, where we successfully reached 1200 Grade 9 learners of the Western Cape. We also held a one-day Expo for 150 technology teachers in Cape Town on request of the WCED and the MEC, Minister Debbie Schafer, who attended the 2017 Winter School in Swellendam, herself.

Each year we offered 10 learners of our community the opportunity of a Skills Training Program at Automation Works in Swellendam with the focus on getting these learners job-ready for job placement opportunities. This resulted in 30 learners already been trained successfully of which 24 also got a job placement in companies close to their homes and families.

The first day me and Wynand discussed this challenge young people are facing, we never thought it will grow into this awesome career choice vehicle for the young people. The lesson we learned from this initiative is the following: if you believe in something good, don’t wait for some-one else or for funding from somewhere else before you start it. Just begin with what you have, put your heart and soul into it and the rest will follow.