Welcoming new learners into the iSimangaliso family

20 May 2019

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The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a unique South African protected area whose mission includes: “Protect, preserve and present the Wetland Park and its World Heritage values for current and future generations… and to deliver benefits to communities living in and adjacent to the Park”.

One of the ways in which the iSimangaliso Authority is doing this is through the Park’s Higher Education Programme in effect since 2010, during which time it has assisted 112 young achievers from communities surrounding the Park to follow tertiary studies and graduate in fields related to the work that iSimangaliso undertakes in its management and development of the World Heritage Site. iSimangaliso-supported students have achieved an 77% pass rate, which is way above the national average, and an indication of the holistic approach taken by iSimangaliso and its partner organisation REAP, who have a long history of supporting rural students.

iSimangaliso recruited 14 first year students for the 2019 academic year, offering an excellent opportunity to deserving individuals considering a career in conservation, tourism and related fields. Our ‘top-up bursaries’ are exclusively reserved for school learners in the land claimant communities and adjacent to the Park.

iSimangaliso recently held an introductory picnic for first year bursary students in Durban.

First row, left to right: Luyanda Khanyile from Mhlekani in Mkhuze studing B Admin, Sithembile Tembe from eSikhemelele in Manguzi studying B Sc Environmental Science; Nomaswazi Vumase from Thandizwe in Manguzi studying B Life Science; Thulisile Ngema from Mfekayi in Mtubatuba Studying B Occ Therapy.

Second row, left to right: Philani Ngisi (REAP Student Advisor; Mfundo Mngomezulu from Manguzi studying B. Life Science; Nonhle Zungu from Ndlondlweni in Manguzi studying B. Commerce; Ntsikelelo Kulati Project Manager (iSimangaliso).

Third row, left to right: Nosipho Ngcobo Project Assistant (iSimangaliso); Ntsikelelo Khumalo from Manguzi studying B. Civil Engineering; Phakamani Ngubane from Phelandaba in Manguzi studying B. Accounting; Thobani Zikhali from Olakeni in Mbazwane studying B. Commerce; Nombuso Dimba (REAP Regional Manager) and Mabongi Mbambo (REAP Student Advisor).

According to iSimangaliso Project and Facilitation Assistant Nosipho Ngcobo, “The Authority offers a package of support to help young people from communities around the iSimangaliso Wetland Park to access tertiary education in the fields of conservation, tourism or related disciplines. Since its inception in 2010 the programme has provided top-up bursaries and psycho-social support through its partner organisation REAP to 112 students. The academic support part of the programme is vitally important in ensuring the success of the learners.”

The students were thrilled by the opportunity to meet their sponsors. Nomaswazi Vumase spoke on behalf of the ladies, saying that they are very happy for the opportunity they have received and they will ensure they do their part in achieving their goals. Phakamani Ngubani also added that without iSimangaliso and REAP transition from high school to tertiary level education would have been hard but because of the support they receive they have adapted successfully. iSimangaliso Project Manager Ntsikelelo Kulati in his closing remarks encouraged the new students to work hard and repay iSimangaliso and their communities with good results. He said that it would be unacceptable for the students to encounter challenges on their own when they have iSimangaliso and REAP to support them. They must always utilise the opportunities presented to them in order to succeed.

iSimangaliso CEO Sibusiso Bukhosini said: “On behalf of all at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, I wish to congratulate the new top-up bursary recipients on their hard work that has resulted in their successful selection for this programme. We are also pleased that we have seen students graduating through the support they are receiving from this programme. We look forward to seeing great results from the next generation of conservation and tourism development leaders.”

Media enquiries should be directed to Debbie Cooper at debbie@isimangaliso.com.

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