New Gen seafarers are learning via online textbooks and video

South Africa is using the latest online and video technology to address the skills deficit in one of the world’s oldest professions – seafaring.

A new Nautical Science ‘online textbook’ and a series of Maritime Economics ‘’teaching videos’’ were introduced this year. The aim is also to make these two maritime subjects more accessible to high school pupils in the hope of drawing more people into the maritime sector, thereby growing the local skills base to make South Africa more internationally competitive.

The online textbooks, freely available on, were funded by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) and maritime service provider AMSOL, while the new video series was funded by The TK Foundation.

Both Nautical Science and Maritime Economics Grade 10 – 12 syllabus content can now be viewed online or downloaded as pdf files for user-friendly reading.  Supplementing this textbook content are Maritime Economics ‘’teaching videos”, with the production of similar Nautical Science videos planned for early 2021.

The content is specifically geared towards local students who may be second-language English speakers. It avoids technical jargon wherever possible and introduces key concepts using graphics, animation and other online resources.

To this end, videographers spent time filming Brian Ingpen, industry stalwart and Lawhill’s award winning educator, who presents the content in a concise and easily comprehensible manner.

And the timing of the initiative couldn’t have been better, coming amidst Covid-19 lockdown when many pupils were unable to attend formal classes; instead they could access online material to complete their studies.

Commenting on the success of the project, SAIMI’s CEO Mr Odwa Mtati said: ‘’Growing and transforming South Africa’s maritime industry – and boosting employment and economic activity in the sector can be greatly supported by maritime education at school level. While this has been done in a handful of schools via the formal introduction of a maritime curriculum for Grades 10 to 12, we need to do more if we are to address the future skills needs of the industry.

As to the significance of the project, SAIMI’s Mr Mtati, said: “On a macro level, the development of these learning materials is important bearing in mind South Africa’s plans to use its vast ocean resources to grow its economy and create jobs.

“Realising the potential of the maritime industry in South Africa will require significant improvement in skills development and we believe this should be done, not only at tertiary or TVET level, but at high school level where we should cultivate an increased awareness of (and interest in) the maritime industry, as well as a love, respect and appreciation for the ocean.”

“The online textbook was a priority as there are currently no printed Nautical Science textbooks available to Grade 10 – 12 learners and we urgently needed one which considered the language requirements of South African students.

Internationally-published textbooks, whilst available, are both expensive and assume a language level higher than the language ability of the average South African whose mother tongue is not English.”

Maritime education recently received another boost with news that global shipping giant Maersk will as from 2021 provide industry support for Lawhill, which has been well served since the inception of the programme and for the past 25 years by Safmarine.

Maersk recently announced that Safmarine – which has been part of the Maersk Line Group since 1999 – would no longer be marketed as a stand-alone brand.

Jonathan Horn, Maersk’s Area Managing Director for Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Islands, recently reconfirmed Maersk’s commitment to supporting Lawhill into the future.

“Education and knowledge building are vital for society and Maersk, as our success as a company is linked to the ability of our employees,” said Horn at a function in October to mark the retirement of Ingpen and Captain Godfrey Schlemmer from Lawhill.

“Long-term success is seldom built on short-term gain and this is very true for the partnership with Lawhill and the Simon’s Town School,” Horn said. “We are proud of the 25 year relationship Safmarine has had with this programme and, as Maersk, are excited to see what the future holds for this great institution.”

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