High school pupils clean beach

Hard at work are , in front, from left, Nicole Dejager, 16, Ashmayne Braaf, 16, Reneé van der Ross,15 and Jordan Braaf, 14.

The South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) hosted a beach clean-up with Grade 8 pupils from Hout Bay High School on Tuesday June 21.

About 100 enthusiastic pupils gathered on the beach. They were provided with plastic gloves and bags to help pick up litter.

SAEON provided pupils with a check-list to record all the litter which was found for data capturing purposes.

“One of the pillars of SAEON is education,” said Thomas Mtonsi, environmental science education officer at SAEON, which provides a platform for science education outreach and capacity development.

“Through working with schools, SAEON helps pupils to understand the long-term benefits of monitoring and helps people to use natural resources,” said Mr Mtonsi.

Hout Bay High School is one of five schools SAEON has adopted. Other schools are in Ocean View and on the Cape Flats.

“It is important to have a clean beach and the things which are thrown into our oceans have a big impact on the environment such as the marine species,” said Cape Peninsula University of Technology oceanography student and volunteer, Lizelle Carolus.

SAEON has been involved with Hout Bay High School for almost five years. “The school has come a long way with SAEON. Through the partnership with SAEON, many of our pupils have been provided with opportunities,” said principal of Hout Bay High School, Juan Julius.

“Many of the volunteers at the beach clean-up were ex-pupils from Hout Bay High School and most of them are studying marine biology or a field in the sciences”.

Mr Julius said this initiative forms part of the pupils’ school assignments and practical work in science and environmental studies. “They come out and enjoy their beach and see it from a different angle. I’m quite proud of what’s happening here today. We aim to get these pupils excited about their education,” said Mr Julius.

“It is not an easy task due to the conditions we work in but it gives us hope that we can win the education battle bit by bit.”