As part of the national Take a Girl Child to Work Day initiative on Thursday 31 May 2012, Transnet National Ports Authority welcomed female learners into its workplace to give them the opportunity to experience port operations first-hand.
The initiative is meant to offer wide career choices to girls as well as to develop and channel them for future careers.
More than 265 learners from grades 10 -12 from TNPA’s adopted schools nationally and daughters of TNPA staff got a sneak peek into the maritime world as they got to tour some of TNPA’s busy ports in Durban, Richards Bay, East London, Saldanha Bay, Mossel Bay, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Ngqura.
Others in Gauteng were given the opportunity to meet with some of TNPA’s executive members at the head office in Parktown, where they were presented with TNPA’s business objectives and a breakdown of port operations via an interactive state-of-the-art smart-board system supplied by Edit Micro Systems.
The schools who participated were: Dr. Vilakazi High School and Forest Hill High School in Gauteng; Sithengile Senior Secondary, Fairvale High School and Umlazi Commercial High School in Durban; Siphosethu High School and Khombindlela High School in Richards Bay; Matthew Goniwe Memorial High School and Simons Town High School in Cape Town; Weston High School, Vredenburg High School and Diazville High School in Saldanha Bay; Indwe Secondary School and Sao Bras Secondary School in Mossel Bay; Newell High School in Port Elizabeth/Nqgura and ITEC schools - Umzuvukile High, Umtiza High, Ulwazi High, Kwenxura S.S.S., Unathi High and Sakhiziwe High in East London.
Educators from the various schools said TNPA had definitely made a positive mark on exposing career opportunities especially for black women. The event was a real eye-opener for both kids and educators - educators could now constructively guide learners to reach their future goals and learners could now make an educated career choice.
Tau Morwe, Chief Executive of TNPA, said: “We are committed to the ‘Girl Child’ programme. We want to ensure that our participation in this campaign is sincere and meaningful. Our aim is to provide an opportunity for these girls to realize that they have equal opportunities in this industry which was previously dominated by men.”
The Take a Girl Child to Work initiative coincides with TNPA’s educational campaign that aims to transforms the maritime industry by providing educational opportunities in pure maths, science and English and skills development to dynamic, daring, ambitious and adventure-seeking young learners from disadvantaged backgrounds.
This educational drive forms part of its ongoing corporate social investment programme to inform people about the organisation and the wide range of careers offered in the maritime industry. It also aims to position TNPA as a desired employee.
When asked about their experience at TNPA, the girls excitedly commented that they were thrilled about witnessing the reality of the ports. They finally understood the dynamics of the industry and the important role the maritime industry, especially TNPA, plays in building the economy. They also gained insight into the various portfolios within the industry such as maritime navigation, marine engineering, marine aviation and marine piloting.
Samkelisiwe Ndlovu, a 19-year old grade 11 student from Sithengile Senior Secondary said: “We really enjoyed the day. We are grateful, as students, to have had this opportunity to learn so much about the types of careers within the maritime industry.
“It takes a lot to realise your dream and we would like to say thank you to TNPA for encouraging us to see who and where we want to be. This day has allowed us the ability to believe in our potential as ‘women of tomorrow’.”
Michele Kay, ITEC Managing Director, heading up the East London TNPA funded Scitech Programme said: “The experience was a potentially life-changing one for the group of girls that participated. It opened their minds to the vast career possibilities within the maritime sector.”
Morwe said: "If we are to take South Africa’s ports into the future and position it as a force to be reckoned with internationally, we need highly skilled, innovative and dynamic new people entering our organisation, and this definitely includes women.
“TNPA has made a conscious decision to create a world-class, safe, effective and efficient national port system where qualified women play a vital role in the operations of our business.
“Therefore, we feel it necessary to open our doors and show students the wide range of careers and opportunities that are available.
"We hope the experience with us will give these learners a greater understanding of what a port does and that we really are the ‘heart’ of the economy.”