Pretoria: 05 June 2017
Enhanced general public awareness, but especially among youth, about the multitude of career choices available in South Africa across a wide range of economic sectors remains a crucial aspect to broadening the reach of education, training and skills development.
It was with this in mind that a regional unit of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) based in Port Elizabeth, landed full support to a careers awareness campaign for high schools in the western region of the Eastern Cape mid-May 2017, at the invitation of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature.
Targeted were high schools in the Koukamma area, situated in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality along the Indian Ocean coastline south-west of Port Elizabeth.
The exhibition over two days was held at the Paul Sauer High School hostel hall. In addition to SAMSA, other exhibitors included the Department of Higher Education and Training, Department of Labour, Eastern Cape Health Department, MERSETA, Human Rights Commission, Eastern Cape Ambulance Services, Vodacom, ABSA, Sun International Boardwalk, FAMSA and a few others.
As many 300 learners attended the exhibition and according to SAMSA, the organization took the opportunity to share with the learners information on numerous careers available in the country’s maritime economic sector, a hitherto sector hidden in open view to the majority of people in the country.
“We covered about 250 learners, handing out brochures, together with making them aware of maritime careers. We encountered quite a number of very keen learners, children with math and science, and advised them to keep a look out for the SAMSA Bursary advertisement or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to enquire about it,” said Ms Saloshini Naidoo, a SAMSA office administrator for the southern region.
Ms Naidoo noted an alarming gap that could prove a significant challenge or even a limitation to some of the learners however – an apparent absence of math and science education at some of the schools.
She says: “Some of the schools in attendance did not offer math and science to learners,” – this at a time when maritime sector specific education is gaining momentum, however gradually, at all levels of education; from foundational to technical and vocational education and training, and tertiary levels.
From a near complete absence of high schools offering maritime sector specific education as recently as five years ago, the Eastern Cape province now has two of these based in East London, while other provinces including Gauteng are engaged in similar initiatives.
A year ago the Free State provincial government also committed to allocating funding to students in that province keen to follow maritime sector careers.
TVET colleges are also currently in the process of being roped in to offer comprehensive maritime sector related education and training courses, with proposed curriculum driven by SAMSA in conjunction with various education and training authorities currently in the process of formal approval.
According to Ms Naidoo however, delivery challenges, inclusive of a critical shortage of maritime sector education teachers, should not hold back creation of greater awareness of careers that exist in the sector. The more people – and particularly young people – are aware so much the better; she says.
SAMSA regularly contributes to maritime sector careers awareness as part of its third objective of its legislated mandate.