Tuesday, January 20, 2015.
At the start of the new school year, many young South Africans begin school without any idea of a career path or the steps they need to take to achieve the career of their dreams.
Fortunately, there are those who do not face this dilemma, thanks to the specialised education they’ve received during the last three years of their schooling at Simon’s Town School, which celebrates its 200th year in 2015.
For the past two decades, the Lawhill Maritime Centre – Simon’s Town School’s maritime studies department – has provided specialist instruction in Maritime Economics and Nautical Sciences for Grades 10 to 12.
Most of its students begin the Maritime Studies course with little background of the maritime industry – some may not even have seen the sea or a ship at close quarters – and, after the three year programme, emerge with a range of knowledge and skills that greatly improve their prospects for tertiary education funding or employment within the maritime industry.
At the beginning of January this year, past student, Rolf Siebold-Berry (29), who left Lawhill at the end of 2003, obtained his internationally-recognised Master’s Certificate of Competency (Unlimited). After serving in tankers and abroad the polar shipping vessel, SA Agulhas, Rolf was Second Officer aboard a 126m megayacht for four years during which time he circumnavigated the world and travelled to a variety of interesting places.
His Master’s qualification now paves the way for him to achieve his ambition of commanding one of the world’s large Superyachts. He is the third past student to have achieved a Master’s Certificate of Competency and three other former Lawhill students are expected to obtain their Master’s certificates in 2015.
Other recent achievers are Tsoso Hanong (19), a Lawhill General Botha Old Boys’ Association (GBOBA)/TNPA bursary holder and Ntlahla (Lucky) Tetyana (19), a TNPA bursary holder, who were the dux navigation students at CPUT’s Maritime Studies Department in December last year. Both Tsoso and Lucky obtained nine distinctions in their final S2 examinations.
Since its inception, more than 300 young South Africans have passed through the Lawhill programme, many of them pursuing successful careers in the maritime industry, both ashore and at sea, while others have gone on to make their mark in other industries. For example, Nomcebo Biyela, a Lawhill Class of 2012 graduate, enters her third year medicine at UCT this year.
Wholly-funded by the maritime industry, the Lawhill Maritime Centre has won several awards since it was founded in 1997. Past awards include the Lloyds List ‘Salute to Youth and Training’ award (London, 1999) and more recently, the international Seatrade ‘Investment in People’ Award (London, 2012) and a Platinum Award from the Impumelelo Social Innovation Centre (Cape Town, 2013).