The African Academy for the Built Environment was founded in 1994. Two patrons, D W Macnamara and C L Yeatman realised that was a shortage of well-trained Draughtspersons and decided that something should be done about it. This resulted in the birth of the African Academy for Computer Aided Draughting with the main purpose of training Draughtspersons. With help from industry computers, software and premises (sponsored by BATEMAN) were acquired. A pilot program of 12 weeks with 8 students commenced in September 1994. This was so successful that they decided to formally launch the Academy. Three 3 staff members were appointed and recruitment of more students took place.

In 1995 the course commenced with 26 students with course material consisting of 3 subjects, namely: Computer Skills, Mechanical and Building Draughting. At the same time, the Academy got curriculum accreditation from the Institute for Mechanical Engineers. Twenty students passed the course and within months, 19 were placed in industry, which was part of the Academy’s primary objectives.

In 1996 the Academy appointed an extra trainer to expand on the scope of training. The course material was changed to suit the N4/N5 Multi-disciplinary Drawing Office Practice material and twenty-seven students enrolled with the Academy. This year brought a few changes – in addition to the new curriculum, the Academy got accreditation from the Institute of Draughtspersons and the Department of Public Works pledged their support to the Academy. A new trainer was recruited from Johannesburg Technical College, equipping the Academy with two trainers (both with N6 qualifications and specialists in their own field). 20 students passed the course and 18 were placed into industry within 6 months.

In 1997 the Academy grew even further and a full-time fundraiser was appointed. The Academy, recognising the strength of the staff, created a Management team consisting of the Lecturers and an Administration Manager. The Academy was registered as a Private Technical College. 27 students were enrolled and all passed, a first for the Academy! 25 students were placed into industry. Commercial Training over weekends was initiated to provide extra income for the Academy.

Another 27 students enrolled and all of them passed. 24 out of this group were successfully placed into industry. The Academy decided to add onto their commercial training by offering a Technical Drawing Bridging course for students who have Mathematics and Science but no Drawing background, and offered this 2-week course to those students. This expanded the recruitment area. The Academy thrived under the supervision of the Management team and the full-time fundraiser.

The Academy commenced in 1999 with 39 students. All passed. 36 out of this group was successfully placed in industry. The Japanese Embassy sponsored new computers for the Academy. This year the Academy appointed a Student Representative Council by democratic vote. They decided to give something back to the community and adopted Kids Haven in Benoni as their project. It was also decided to take on 10% paying students to provide extra income for the Academy, this venture turned out to be very successful with the Academy receiving more applications than they could accommodate.

With the demand from students, the Academy expanded and accepted 60 students to be trained for the year. Special thanks to BATEMAN for sponsoring the bigger premises. For the first time the students could take the national examinations in some of the subjects, as previously it was not allowed to take these examinations on computer. The outcome was that the Academy produced the top students nationwide in 2 subjects and the average pass rate was at least 35% higher than the national pass rate. Fifty two students were placed.

The Academy expanded by running night classes, for people in the working environment. It meant a lot of extra work for the staff. The end result was that the 7 part-time students graduated with the full-time students. The Advisory Council consisting of representatives from industry took on the task of writing unit standards for the Academy.

Due to the success of the previous year, the night classes expanded to 19 students. Once again the Academy did better on the national examinations than the rest of the country. Out of a group of 46 students, 42 were successfully placed into industry. The unit standards for the Multi-Disciplinary Drawing Office Practice course were developed by the Academy with the assistance of the Advisory Council comprising of industry representatives.

Out of 48 day class students, 47 secured employment, giving Afican Academy a 98% placement rate. Night classes expanded to 24 students who successfully completed the course. The Academy commenced with registration as a training provider with CETA. The Academy had a reunion for past students, with 220 students attending.

Out of 60 day class students, 58 secured employment. This year we celebrated our 10 year anniversary. The night classes increased to 36 students. This was the Academy’s biggest intake thus far.

Out of the 40 day class students 39 were successfully placed into industry. The night classes grew to 45 students in total.


The Academy decided to take on additional paying students in order to subsidise the disadvantaged students. 129 students graduated in May 2007.

The Academy moved to new premises to accommodate its growth to 252 students in this year, with it’s 1006th student passing through the Academy since its inception.

The Academy has acquired a new wing which was made possible by a R1 million donation from Hatch, thereby increasing its capacity to accommodate in excess of 500 students.

Another international partnering – Bentley Systems have made available an international development specialist to assist African Academy with future course development

Development and finalisation of the new industry related Piping Draughting course

Launch of Distance Learning / E-Learning

Received funding in excess of R4m from Nation Skills Fund, Department of Higher Education.

City and Guilds accreditation and endorsement of the African Academy. Offering the Mechanical Engineering course through City and Guilds. African Academy is doing a learnership for Denel in the Multi Disciplinary Drawing Office Practice course.

Offering the new Advanced Courses aiming towards Diploma Qualification.

Awarded funding of R3m from Gautrain Management Agency.

Awarded R1m yet again from Hatch Engineering. Hatch has funded African Academy in excess of R10m to date.