Over the course of the year the Two Oceans Aquarium, in partnership with Gansbaai Academy, Simon’s Town High and South Peninsula High, launched Marine Sciences as a new pilot subject. Today, Marine Sciences was officially gazetted in the Government Gazette, and the 21-day public comment period has begun.

The Marine Sciences pilot subject was launched at the node schools (Gansbaai Academy, Simon’s Town High and South Peninsula High) in January 2019 as part of the Grade 10 curriculum.  It has been offered as an “after-school” 8th subject at the node schools, over two afternoons per week.  The subject is also available to interested Grade 10 learners from neighbouring schools and surrounding areas.

“This is a new moment for us at the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, and one of the most exciting moments for marine education in South Africa.  It is a first for us, and a first for Africa. The curriculum is already recognised around the world as one to strive towards”  said Russell Stevens, Head of Education at the Two Oceans Aquarium, and the driving force behind getting Marine Sciences recognized as a curriculum subject.

“As the curriculum advanced we developed an extremely successful partnership with the Department of Basic Education, the Gauteng Department of Education and in particular the Western Cape Education Department. Officials within the Education Department have shown nothing but support, enthusiasm and a “let’s make this happen” attitude as they have seen the hard work which has been put into the development of the curriculum and teacher support materials by the Two Oceans Aquarium teaching team.  We look forward to the official pilot in schools where the Grade 10s of 2020 will take Marine Sciences as one of their subjects for their Matric in 2022.”

This has been an inspirational journey through which the Aquarium was not only supported by the various governmental departments, but also one during which the educators were connected to enthusiastic children who are “stoked” about marine life.  “These students have expressed an understanding of how important the ocean is as we face the climate crisis. We have been inspired by them and their commitment to being the change that they want to see in the world" said Russell Stevens.

View the new Marine Science curriculum here.

Comments and submissions can be made to:

  • Mr SA Tihbane for the attention of Mr DL Silman
  • Tel.: 012 357 4074
  • Email: silman.d@dbe.gov.za

About the pilot programme:

NOVEMBER 2018: The Two Oceans Aquarium, in partnership with Gansbaai Academy, Simon’s Town High and South Peninsula High will, in January 2019, launch Marine Sciences as a new pilot subject.  These three schools have been selected as “Marine Sciences Node Schools” and will offer the new subject to Grade 10 learners. These learners will be the pilot group and successful candidates will be awarded a Two Oceans Aquarium Gr12 Marine Sciences Certificate when matriculating.  This pilot will guide teachers to introduce this subject as an official Matric subject for Gr 10 students in 2020.


We at the Two Oceans Aquarium are incredibly proud of what our Environmental Education Team has accomplished here - the tireless nights, commitment, hard work (and probably tears) has truly paid off in a marvellous way. To the team that compiled the Marine Sciences pilot curriculum - Russell Stevens, Xavier Zylstra, Kirshia Koumbatis and Anzio Abels - well done, future generations of South African ocean-lovers will have you to thank!

Two Oceans Aquarium Head of Education Russell Stevens is an internationally respected marine sciences educator.

For Russell Stevens, Head of Education at the Two Oceans Aquarium, this is a significant milestone in the work towards the development of the subject which will be implemented in schools across the country from 2020. “This “project” is gaining momentum and the process has put the Two Oceans Aquarium on the map for the most senior officials in the country.  Our team have worked very hard at developing partnerships with the Department of Basic Education and in the provincial education departments (WCED; Eastern Cape; KZN and the Gauteng Education Department). All are now familiar with our programmes and the significance of our offering in the South African education landscape. Support from senior officials in the Departments of Education has shown recognition for the contribution made by the Two Oceans Aquarium staff in the partnering with South Africa’s formal education sector.”

The Two Oceans Aquarium has a very active and respected education department that sees approximately 70 000 school children visit the Aquarium each year who are introduced to the wonders of the marine ecosystems. In addition, 30 000 children are exposed to the Aquarium’s two outreach programmes. Additionally, since 2005 the Two Oceans Aquarium’s Environmental Education Centre has offered enrichment courses for learners from Grade 6 through to Grade 12. These courses, usually presented over weekends or during school holidays and through various sponsorships, are offered free of charge for the learners. It is from these highly-acclaimed and ever-popular courses that Aquarium’s education team was approached by the department of education to develop the Marine Sciences curriculum for schools. 

What is the Marine Sciences curriculum about?

The Marine Sciences curriculum has been conceived to cover five sub-disciplines:

  1. Marine Geography and Geology: this section deals with the structure and origins of coastlines, the seafloor and sediments, and how these change over time.
  2. Marine Chemistry: the chemical composition and properties of seawater, and the effects of pollutants on ocean life.
  3. Marine Physics: waves, tides and currents, as well as the ways in which the ocean acts as a driver of weather and climate.
  4. Marine Biology: marine life and includes ecology, fundamental biology, classification, evolutionary processes, and the adaptation of marine organisms to their environments.
  5. Humans and the Ocean: this section highlights how humans use the ocean for food, travel and recreation, and how renewable and non-renewable resources are harvested. This section also considers the importance of research in understanding the ocean and the effects that human activities and practices have on the ocean and larger global patterns (e.g. climate change, ocean acidification).  The issue of sustainability is foregrounded in the teaching of the entire subject.

There are five specific “Marine Sciences Aims” which relate to the purposes of learning science:

  1. Know the subject content (theory).
  2. Conduct practical work and investigations.
  3. Understand the applications of Marine Science in everyday life, the history of Marine Science discoveries, and the relationship between indigenous knowledge and science.
  4. Understand the multidisciplinary nature of Marine Sciences and be able to explain variables in more than one branch of Marine Sciences.
  5. Understand the sensitive nature of the ocean, the scientific evidence of human impact on marine ecosystems, and the importance of sustainable management practices.

How can my child take part?

The Marine Sciences pilot subject will be launched at the node schools in January 2019 as part of the Grade 10’s curriculum.  It will be offered as an “after-school” 8th subject at the node schools, over two afternoons per week (as determined by the school).   The subject will also be available to interested Grade 10 learners from neighbouring schools and nearby areas.  A minimal cost for students will apply and be payable to the node schools’ governing body.

Node schools are currently inviting prospective Grade 10’s who wish to take Marine Sciences from 2019, to apply. Each application will be considered in conjunction with the Two Oceans Aquarium. 

Applicants need to submit the following to the Marine Sciences coordinating teacher at each of the node schools:

  • Letter of motivation from the learner as to why he/she is interested in studying Marine Sciences
  • A supporting letter from their Geography / Natural sciences teacher or their Grade Head, recommending the learner and approving the application
  • A certified copy of their Grade 9 June report
  • A letter from their parent/ guardian supporting the application, undertaking to arrange transport and to agree with payment of the after-school Marine Sciences fees.

The following criteria will apply:

  • Applications are open to current Grade 9’s who will be studying Gr 10 in 2019.
  • A maximum of 40 suitable candidates per node will be selected
  • Candidates must be taking Grade 10 Maths and Physical Sciences
  • Have reliable transport to ensure attendance of the programme.
  • If Marine Sciences will be the learner’s 8th subject, it must not interfere with any of their other subjects.

For enquiries regarding the Marine Sciences curriculum and subjects, please contact the following node schools:

  • Gansbaai Academy (028 384 2370)
  • Simon’s Town High (021 786 1056)
  • South Peninsula High (021 712 9318)

The Two Oceans Aquarium has many educational opportunities available for learners of all ages and walks of life. Take a look at what is on offer at our Environmental Education Centre.

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