Official Opening of the Northpine Technical High School
Thank you for the kind invitation to be with you on this important occasion.
The last time I was here, in November last year, this was still a construction site, so I am delighted to see the completed version in all its glory!
It hasn’t been easy getting to this day. The calls for the building of this school go back nearly 40 years.
When I came to office in 2009, the need for a new school in Northpine was soon brought to my attention.
I remember clearly the first meeting I had with the "Old Paarl Road Technical High School Steering Committee", where we met to discuss the possibility of building a new technical high school in the Kraaifontein, Brakenfell area.
The nearest technical high school was Bellville Tech, which as explained by the committee, was in terms of travel too far for those learners who wished to pursue a technical study field.
After an audit of the province’s infrastructure needs, the WCED approved the building of the new technical high school in Northpine which commenced in the second half of 2010.
And here today, we have this wonderful facility that will cater for the needs of learners wanting to take technical subjects.
Technical schools such as this are extremely valuable to this government.
They provide important educational opportunities for learners who want to study in fields such as mechanical technology and engineering and are key to developing skills in the Western Cape.
Northpine Technical High is one of five technical high schools in the province.
The remaining four include Delft Technical HS, Oude Molen, Belville and Drostdy Technical High School. Each of these schools specialise in technical subjects such as mechanical technology, electrical technology, civil technology, engineering, graphics and design, as well as mathematics and science.
In addition to the five technical high schools, there are 19 additional "comprehensive technical schools" which offer the four technical subjects and other subjects such as history and geography.
To produce learners with skills in engineering is very valuable to us. Engineering is a key driver of human development and Africa in particular has a very small engineering capacity which results in many African nations being unable to develop crucial infrastructure without outside aid.
The attainment of many of the Millennium Development Goals for example requires the achievement of sufficient engineering capacity to develop infrastructure and sustainable technological development.
We certainly can’t progress as a province if we do not have the requisite engineering skills.
The design of this school is also in itself an engineering feat. For example, they designed the school as a "citadel" similar to an enclosed city with a single gated entry, to address security concerns and to create a safe, defensible space which is also protected from the harsh South-Easterly summer winds.
The hall and the administration block were positioned within the perimeter of the classroom blocks to minimise circulation and the distinct roofscape allows rainwater to be discharged into water tanks which are to be utilised to irrigate sports fields and food gardens.
The architects, MEYER+VORSTER, were given a brief for a high quality, low maintenance, sustainable public building. They have certainly achieved that and I am very pleased to hear that this is the first school in South Africa to achieve a four-star green rating.
And perhaps one day, MEYER+VORSTER will have in their employment future graduates of Northpine Technical HS.
Another special thing about this school is that it is the first school to manage a protected environmental area. The very rare protea, the Blushing Bride, was found on this site during construction. It is, quite possibly, the only one of its species growing in its natural habitat. A 5000m2 section of this site has been fenced off to ensure this iconic South African flower continues to flourish.
What I ask of this school community is to protect this school as you do this very rare plant. Too many of our schools are neglected by the very community they serve and I would like to appeal to all the people here today to increase the activity involved around this school. Make it the centre of your community and ensure that it not only remains clean, but is safe from any form of vandalism and theft.
Your support is vital and we encourage all members of the community to make this school a long-lasting success.
To the school governing body, management and educators of this school - I know that it has taken many years to get to where this school is today. I am extremely pleased that you have now been given the opportunity to manage and teach in this wonderful environment.