New appointment for Emma, the education expert

School Operations Manager Emma Chiliza

uShaka Sea World Formal Education Department staff member Emma Chiliza has contributed greatly to the marine education of hundreds of learners since the aquarium opened in 2004. In recognition of her valuable contribution Emma was recently promoted to School Operations Manager. 

Emma and her colleague Nokuthula Mdlalose have jointly been responsible for managing school bookings over the past 10 years. The new position was created to manage an increasing number of learners, while ensuring that the standard of education and teacher/learner support is maintained.

Says Emma, “I am looking forward to the opportunity of expanding the formal education programme in two ways. I hope to increase the number of learners who are able to visit the centre and to increase the conservation value of each learner's visit to uShaka Sea World.”

Traditionally, school bookings were made by teachers and principals either telephonically or in person, which meant that teachers in schools without electricity or cellphone signal had no option but to travel long distances to uShaka to make enquiries about bringing their learners for a visit. Thanks to improvements in cellphone connectivity, electricity supply and modern technology, email has become the tool of choice for booking a school outing.

For most South African schools, arranging an excursion is time-consuming and challenging, but Emma is ideally placed to assist teachers through the process, which starts with securing a suitable date.

It is mandatory for schools to apply to the Department of Education for permission to take their learners on an excursion before the school is permitted to start the fundraising process. Buses also need to be booked and permission granted by parents. Often, unforeseen circumstances prevent the school from being able to visit on their appointed day and the whole process starts from scratch.

The majority of learners who visit uShaka Sea World Education Centre are from Grades 1-7, and come from all over Southern Africa. 

KwaZulu-Natal schools visit throughout the year and schools beyond our provincial borders generally visit between September and November.

Emma has a wonderfully giving spirit and a warm personality. Her a passion for education, combined with her love of the ocean, permeates the entire Education Department.

Among this historical group of visiting learners was the one-millionth child to visit uShaka Sea World

Teachers are warmly welcomed, often having travelled for many hours with 80 excited young learners on board. 

Emma then appoints one of the Education staff members to guide the school through the aquarium, and mammal and bird, experiences.

Before the visitors head back home Emma ensures that they are armed with worksheets, posters and a teacher’s guide to the animals they encountered. For many learners, going on a school excursion is the only opportunity they have to see live marine animals. 

Emma values the important role she plays in creating a platform for learners from all over South Africa not only to learn about the marine world, but to be inspired as they grow into adulthood to care for the sea and its creatures.

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