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Schools of Specialisation (SOS) Festival by Gauteng Department of Education

By Mzukona Mantshontsho
As the year come to a close, we recently had a conversation with Head of Department at the Gauteng Department Education Edward Mosuwe to get a sense of the year and the Schools of Specialisation Festival held on the 15 October 2022.
The GDE recently held an SOS Festival, please tell us more about the event.
The Gauteng Department of Education held its very first Schools of Specialisation (SOS) Festival on 15 October 2022, at the John Orr Engineering School of Specialisation in Milpark, Johannesburg.
The SOS Fest brought all learners from our 21 Schools of Specialisation together in one place to showcase their excellence, innovation, creativity, and skills through their best projects, alongside partnering industries.
The purpose of the GDE SOS Festival is to bring all the Schools of Specialisation together to celebrate and showcase excellence, innovation, creativity, knowledge and skills of our learners, through best projects.
Learners are applying problem solving skills and offering solutions to real life challenges in communities, schools, the province and country at large and also attracting industry partners who are willing to partner with Schools of Specialisation.
The vision for the partnership is for industries to provide job shadowing, bursaries, industry experiences and post career-pathing for our learners. Ultimately these learners will feed back into the economy of South Africa.
How did the idea of Schools of Specialisation in Gauteng come about?
The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) took a policy decision for learners to have access to a specialised, modern, relevant, dynamic and responsive curriculum that is an alternative to the traditional academic curriculum. This decision led us to establishing Schools of Specialisation, which seek to nurture the development of top talent in Gauteng across various disciplines, producing the country’s future generation of economic and industrial entrepreneurs and leaders.
Schools of Specialisation are also the Department’s response to the Provincial Transformation, Modernisation and Re-Industrialisation (TMR) Programme of the Gauteng province by addressing critical skills shortages in prioritised skills areas. The skills areas that have been prioritised are Maths, Science & ICT; Commerce & Entrepreneurship; Engineering; Sports; and Performing & Creative Arts. Our Schools of Specialisation are categorised according to these skills, and their geographical location is specific to economic sectors in each of Gauteng’s five economic corridors:
How important are SOS to re-igniting the Gauteng economy?
These skills areas are essential to building the Provincial economy and serving as a catalyst to revitalise the township economy. There is a current bias towards academic learning that characterises the traditional curriculum. We seek to overcome the deficits in this area by focussing on higher order, critical, inductive and deductive thinking. The latter skills are critical to placing us on a higher growth economic pathway in the province.
Through the SOS programme, the GDE has gained invaluable partnerships with industry-leading companies such as BMW, Honeywell, and Sasol, to name a few, each of whom all have invested in nurturing the development of our learners’ skills across these key disciplines.
The Schools of Specialisation seeks to achieve the following key strategic objectives:
• Address skills shortages in the province.
• Leverage partnerships to expand learner and teacher support.
• Bridge the gap between matric education and further study and/or employment. The skills gained will be valuable for future economic benefits.
• Expand learner opportunities post matric so that impact on employment is visible; and
• Build schools with excellent management and learner performance.