State approves maritime schools plan

22 September 2011 - 03:18 By KHULEKANI MAZIBUKO

South Africa's six port cities could soon have special maritime schools to teach navigation, engineering, hospitality and maritime law.

If the South African Maritime Safety Authority's plan to promote the development of maritime skills is approved by the national Higher Education Department, maritime schools will be built in Durban, Richard's Bay, Mossel Bay, East London, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth by 2013.

The authority's CEO, Tsietsi Mokhele, yesterday said South Africa' s education system had to include maritime studies to fill the skills gap .

While Durban is the largest port in Africa, there are only 10 maritime lawyers in the country and they had all studied in the UK .

Maritime studies were already in the high school curriculum, but Mokhele said only a few matric pupils studied it at university.

"There is a huge gap in the maritime sector due to a shortage of skilled artisans. Careers in boat production, engineering, cadets and aqua culture are some of the careers that young people can choose," he said.

Mokhele was "shocked" to learn that only 57 of KwaZulu-Natal's 25000 matrics would write this year's maritime examination.

Higher Education and Training Deputy Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize said the maritime sector was ignored due to a lack of information.