‘Expose pupils to maritime studies’

Pre-primary ideal place to start, says professor

NMU Business School senior lecturer Dr Jessica Fraser, left, maritime business professor Dr Portia Ndlovu and associate professor of supply chain management at the School of Business and Law at the University of Agder in Norway, Naima Saeed, at an event at the NMU Business School on Thursday
NMU Business School senior lecturer Dr Jessica Fraser, left, maritime business professor Dr Portia Ndlovu and associate professor of supply chain management at the School of Business and Law at the University of Agder in Norway, Naima Saeed, at an event at the NMU Business School on Thursday
Image: Daneel Kriel

Schooling children in maritime studies from pre-primary level is necessary to narrow the gap between education, training and the maritime industry.

This is according to maritime business professor, lawyer and businesswoman, Dr Portia Ndlovu, who would like to see maritime studies added to the school curriculum to encourage young people to become involved in the sector.

Ndlovu, of Durban, was speaking at the Nelson Mandela University Business School on Thursday.

She is now based at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and specialises in international trade laws, particularly maritime law.

“I would like to see regulation that is real and that can allow people to feel included and that they own a piece of the action in maritime,” she said.

“We cannot even think of building stand-up boards if they don’t even care about the ocean or if they cannot even tell where the ocean is in relation to them when they are sitting in a classroom.

“South Africa has already gone through such a rough time, nobody wants to suffer for the future.

“We need to learn to sacrifice for the future by putting in the extra hours to develop people who are willing to lead within the maritime space.”

Ndlovu said the country also needed to look at having South African-registered ships train people to become cadets.

“South Africa needs to be as competitive as all the others in an already strong maritime [environment].

“There are certainly gaps with regards to training.

“But I have visited a number of training institutions around SA that are a doing a fantastic job at producing high-quality people,” she said.

“However, we have such a wide responsibility as a coastal nation so more training needs to be done.

“This is so that we don’t leave behind the kids that would otherwise never be exposed to maritime.”

Naima Saeed, associate professor of supply chain management at the School of Business and Law at the University of Agder in Norway, said SA was the third-best connected country in Africa.

Saeed said Norway was one of the stronger nations in the maritime economy and SA could draw on its experience, but that each country had its challenges.

According to the UN Maritime Connectivity Index, Norway was the least connected country compared with other stronger nations such as China, Denmark and South Korea.

“In many ways Norway is very strong such as in environmental protection, but it is not well connected,” Saeed said.

SA was growing in connectivity, she said.

With an 800km coastline, the Eastern Cape has been pegged as a key area in which to drive economic growth through the oceans economy.

The industry is one of the government’s selling points as an emerging growth node, especially for small businesses.

But Ndlovu said Operation Phakisa had become a meaningless term for many.

“Pay statisticians to make Operation Phakisa mean something for your average young person between 15 and 35.

“We need statistical data about what is meant by onemillion jobs by 2030 so that it can be practically applied.

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