SAAMBR celebrates 20 years of marine education outreach

  • 02 December 2013 | Ann Kunz | Category: Education

Saambr CEO Judy Mann with teachers and learners from Esidumbini Primary

The Education Centre at uShaka Marine world was abuzz with excitement on 27 November as teachers, dignitaries, sponsors, marine conservationists and educators gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sea World Outreach Programme.

Guests were invited to a specially scripted dolphin show, after which they made their way to the Education Centre where learners from Esidumbini Primary School opened the formalities by delighting the audience with marine plays and individual recitals.

When explaining how and why the Outreach Programme was started 20 years ago, Judy Mann, SAAMBR’s CEO, spoke about how inspired she was as a young scientist by teachers who were as passionate about teaching as she was about the marine environment. It was the emergence of these two passions that not only started the Outreach Programme, but ensured its sustainability and growth over the next 20 years.

Passion, dedication and enthusiasm alone could not achieve the objectives of the programme, which is to introduce the sea to numerous disadvantaged children living in rural and peri-rural areas within the borders of South Africa who are unable to visit the Aquarium. Through the generosity of a number of sponsors, the programme has been able to introduce 60 000 learners and 9 000 teachers to marine life since 1993.

Judy Mann and Pieter Strauss – with the picture – at the function

On behalf of Natal Portland Cement (NPC), Pieter Strauss accepted a beautiful painting that was presented to him by Judy as a token of uShaka Sea World’s immense gratitude for NPC’s most generous sponsorship of the programme over the past nine years. Another major sponsor acknowledged was the National Lottery Fund.

The Outreach Programme continues its vital work each week as dedicated uShaka Sea World educators load up their vehicles and a specially designed trailer, and set off into rural areas. Their travels take them as far afield as Sodwana Bay and Bergville, where they often traverse dirt tracks to access schools and community centres.

Says Judy, “Our oceans are vital for survival on earth – but most people never think about the sea. The Outreach Programme gives learners and their educators a glimpse into a new world, and lights a spark of interest in the ocean. We hope that the spark will begin a lifelong interest in the environment. By empowering people to care of the environment, SAAMBR is contributing towards building a more sustainable future for all South Africans.”

The goal of the Outreach Programme over the next 20 years is to more than double the number of learners and teachers reached over the past 20 years.

Outreach educator Siphelele Chiliza with learners from Inanda Secondary School

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