The French South African Schneider Electric Education Centre (F’SASEC) at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) has changed the lives of young people who had little idea of their desired career path when they first left school.
Established by Schneider Electric South Africa in conjunction with the Schneider Electric Foundation, and the French Ministry of Education, F’SASEC offers courses to aspiring entrepreneurs and previously disadvantaged young South Africans interested in becoming artisans, electricians and technicians in the field of energy.
Schneider Electric South Africa’s aims to spread access to reliable, affordable and clean energy through a combined approach of training, business models and investments, making a difference to the socio-economic landscape of the southern Africa region. Key to this goal is providing access to education through training programmes in the field of energy
Highlighting the success of Schneider Electric’s partnership with the French Ministry of Education, F’SASEC has produced outstanding students who have benefited from a variety of employment opportunities.
Following their completion of the N1 and N2 courses for Electrical Engineering offered at their state of the art facility and training centre, Luvo Dubula and Mirriam Monyai have exceeded expectations, where both are now full-time lecturers at the centre.
The course offered by F’SASEC is inclusive of both industrial and domestic installations, where the emphasis is placed on practical experience in order to prepare students for industry. It was the offer of practical hours that first piqued Dubula’s interest in the course.
“I came across the opportunity to study at F’SASEC after I saw the ad in the newspaper. I applied and was accepted. While I am originally for the Eastern Cape, I was already studying here in Gauteng. When I read that the course was for artisans, I was very interested because the practical training was exactly what I wanted. I started in 2014 and did a two-year course,” he said.
Believing that he benefited from his two years at F’SASEC, Dubula, who had little practical experience, can now wire a full house on his own.
“We also had a workshop on entrepreneurship, where we were encouraged to register our own business. I registered my own company and today; it is still operational – though other people now run it as I am working here. Another fantastic opportunity was our trip to France. Prof Alexandre Sebastiani wanted us to be open-minded to other things, so we went to see other Schneider Electric branches and what they do there. I was a great learning experience,” he said.
Through the centre, he also learned to speak French as well as essential life skills, many of which still serve him well today.
“We were taught to be punctual and neat, I clean up after myself still, to this day and the workshop has remained a very tidy space. I currently work in the wiring and electrical workshops where I teach domestic and industrial installation,” Dubula said.
A bright student who did well with her studies, Monyai enjoys the challenges of her new job as a lecturer at F’SASEC.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for Prof Sebastiani. Not only did he help me learn some valuable me life skills but, at one point, I felt the course was getting too much for me, and I was getting ready to give up. When I went to talk to him, he reminded me about my background, family and my future and that is why I’m still here. He made me look at what I was gaining and encouraged me to carry on,” she said.
Monyai, who is continuing with her studies in electrical engineering and hopes to do a teaching course in future, has also benefited from her training in domestic and industrial wiring, additional training with Schneider Electric and entrepreneurship.
“I’ve learned a lot from the course, as well as important life skills. I think that young people need to remember that they are capable of more than they know. It’s important that they strive to be the best, no matter how hard it may seem, and be open minded don’t focus on just one thing,” she said.
“When I was in high school I didn’t do maths and science, so the course was challenging for me, but there was a lot of extra material to help. I was able to excel regardless of this challenge. We also have access to the internet and lecturers are always here for students. There are opportunities for one on one time with lecturers if you are struggling. We have also provided students with iPads, where they can scan QR codes in the lab to access extra material and practical tutorials.”