Port of Cape Town Port Manager Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) was the keynote speaker at the annual awards ceremony of Simon’s Town School’s Lawhill Maritime Centre on 10 October.
She encouraged the inspiring group of learners to carry their positive Lawhill values well into adulthood and to develop grit, which would enable them to fight through any undesirable circumstances to achieve long term goals.
“The unfortunate reality of the society we live in, is that not every young person can and will succeed. And those from rural areas are the most vulnerable,” she said, adding “Excellence is an attitude, not an end game.”
She spoke especially to the young men in attendance, encouraging them to fight against deep-seated structural, institutional and cultural barriers that serve to undermine girls and women.
“Young men, you have already shown your excellence in your schooling and I have no doubt that you can and will show excellence in your character, as you continue to evolve into respectable adult men. You need to remain boys and men who respect girls and women, who respect yourselves, and who value life and human dignity,” she said.
She reminded the youngsters that no person has the right to treat them as inferior and that boys and girls are equal in all respects.
Since 2006 TNPA has enjoyed a successful partnership with Lawhill, providing bursaries for more than 80 learners to study at this specialist maritime school to date. This year TNPA has 13 bursary holders at the school, including five matriculants, Lukhanyo Tom, Sive Gcume, Yolisa Adoons, Cassidy Wittels and Wendy Maliti, who are now in the final year of their three-year TNPA bursaries covering tuition and boarding fees.
Each year TNPA-funded learners are among those recognised for excellence in academic and extracurricular achievements at the annual awards ceremony – and this year was no different.
Lukhanyo Tom of Khayelitsha was presented with the Professor Captain Dr ED Snyders Sailing Award for the growth in his sailing skills. Lukhanyo and fellow student Sive Gcume, who hails from Durban, later showed off their sailing skills on the Lawhill yacht, Homero. Under the guidance of qualified volunteer skippers from SAMTRA, they took TNPA CSI Manager, Shadi Montjane, and Port of Cape Town Corporate Affairs Manager, Coen Birkenstock, and their fellow TNPA Grade 12 bursary learners Cassidy Wittels, Yolisa Adoons and Wendy Maliti, for a sail around False Bay. This was the first time Lawhill students took a sponsor out on the water and their confidence and growth demonstrated the value of TNPA’s long-term partnership with this specialist maritime school.
Cassidy Wittels was one of eight learners who received a Learn to Row Certificate of Completion at the awards evening. She also received the Society for Master Mariners’ Book Prize for Seamanship.
Wittels and Adoons were granted TNPA bursaries in 2016 and transferred from the Samuel Johnson Secondary School in Zastron in the Free State to commence Grade 10 at Simon’s Town School and the Lawhill Maritime Centre in 2017. The girls have been performing well at the Centre and are poised for further success despite having grown up in tough townships in Zastron.
Another Grade 12 TNPA bursary holder, Buhle Zondani of Khayelitsha, received an award for Most Improved Rower.
It was also announced that Sive Gcume had been granted a new bursary from African Marine Solutions (AMSOL) which would cover his tertiary studies in maritime.
The STS Lawhill Maritime Centre continues to prime learners for successful careers in the maritime industry. Since 2006 TNPA has provided essential financial support for deserving but disadvantaged young people to study at Lawhill, and allowing these students to venture into promising careers within the maritime industry.
The high school based maritime studies programme – a first for high schools in Africa – was pioneered in 1995 by shipping line Safmarine and Simon’s Town School. It provides students aged approximately 15 to 18 with specialised knowledge and skills in their last three years of secondary schooling, equipping young charges with the necessary maritime skills and knowledge to boost their prospects of post-school employment and career development.
In order to be considered for the maritime studies programme, applicants must achieve a minimum 60 percent in mathematics, natural science and English in Grade 9. Students also undergo an intensive interview procedure conducted by the institution.