AllyCAD Showcase

Civil Technology in Education

Western Cape Education Department

One of the subjects that lie very close to the heart of Walter Mercuur is the level of education that will ultimately affect the quality of tomorrow's engineers. With the change in the Curriculum Statement some two years ago, the subject components for Civil Technology and Engineering Graphics & Design have undergone a major transformation, which has led to some extensive curriculum planning in the Western Cape.

Walter Mercuur is the Deputy Chief Education Specialist for the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and has occupied this vital position for the last eight years. "My job as Curriculum Planner is to ensure that the national statement is unpacked and interpreted in such a way that the roll out in all seven districts happen as smoothly as possible. I also serve on the national committee where educational policies are developed and assist as convenor of the assessment body that draws up the guidelines to help teachers assess the work of learners," he says.

The change over from the old curriculum to the new one has required extensive preparation and a solid support structure to aid the process. "We have seven Curriculum Advisors that support schools in the roll out and they have already conducted numerous workshops which started in 2004 when the new syllabus was first discussed. We have since conducted the second workshop in 2005 with the most recent one over the June holidays."

"In addition, we embrace our partnership with service provider Knowledge Base as they have offered to train teachers on their AllyCAD program at a heavily discounted rate and once a teacher is trained, the software will be made available to that schools computer lab at no cost. It is industry contributions like these that will ensure a successful roll out and help achieve a high standard of education and it would be difficult to achieve our objectives without this kind of support," says Mercuur.

A frequent question that has been asked, is why the need to change the curriculum at all? According to Walter, the reasons to switch made logical sense.
  "In the previous curriculum there was an overload of subjects and in certain cases the subjects overlapped, causing a huge drain on both human and financial resources. With the introduction of the new curriculum, a lot of these subjects are now more efficiently allocated in terms of current economic needs. The 21st century has brought with it a demand for learners that engage in a high level of knowledge and skills so that they are better equipped to deal with the pressures of tertiary studies."

Although the revised curriculum has had mixed reactions, the overall impression has been positive. "With the new syllabus there is a greater emphasis on creative planning as well as cognitive and theoretical skills, whereas in previous years the focus was more on manual skill development with a narrow definition on vocational skills."

"The new subject component Civil Technology encompasses a far wider spectrum and focuses on every aspect of the built environment. Similarly, the subject component Engineering Graphics & Design (EGD) previously called Technical Drawing - has evolved to cover machine component drawings as well as drawings in house construction drawings, analytical geometry drawings and electrical drawings. Today all subjects are taught in a problem solving setting to allow learners to become initiators, innovators and creators in order to solve real problems with the skills acquired at school, making for a better class of engineer in the future," says Walter.

Walter's recipe for success is a simple one. "I believe that each learner can aspire to greatness if they take charge of their own development and growth. I know that the first batch of matriculants that graduate in the new curriculum in 2008 will take the world by storm and be able to compete with the best engineering scholars in the world!"

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