13 November 2011

Two Oceans Aquarium Teacher works his magic

Two Oceans Aquarium
Khonzani Lembeni engages with students in the Two Oceans Environmental Education Centre.

During September, the Aquarium ran a joint marketing, education and awareness campaign known as the “People’s Campaign”. The aim of the campaign was to raise awareness about the Aquarium in general, as well as our education and conservation efforts in Khayelitsha.

The campaign included articles in City Vision newspaper, bi-weekly slots on Radio Zibonele and an amazing day spent doing promotion at the Khayelitsha Mall. Staff from the curatorial, education, finance and visitor services departments, as well as from Shoreline Café, featured in articles in City Vision.

Khonzani Lembeni, one of the team members from the Two Oceans Aquarium Environmental Education Centre, featured in such an article:

The Two Oceans Aquarium Environmental Education Centre has a dedicated and fully committed team.

Khonzani is also the driving force behind the Two Oceans Aquarium campaign currently running on Radio Zibonele (Mondays and Wednesdays between 17h00 and 18h00) and in the City Vision newspaper. Khonzani, who has a particular affinity with sea horses, is one of the dedicated teachers at the centre, introducing learners every day to the wonders of South Africa’s marine heritage.

Khonzani grew up in East London and arrived in Cape Town in 1991 to finish his schooling. “A year later I enrolled at the College of Magic and enjoyed my studies so much I ended up teaching at the college for 10 years,” he says.

In 2004, Khonzani started performing magic shows in the Two Oceans Aquarium’s AfriSam Children’s Play Centre and assisted with various other activities the centre offers. When an Aquarium teacher’s position became available Khonzani applied, although aware he was without the required qualifications.

Russell Stevens (Head of Education) saw Khonzani’s potential and appointed him Apprentice Teacher. Khonzani was required to assist classes and to sit in during lessons in the Aquarium’s Discovery Centre. Soon he was presenting these classes, and started teaching some of the Xhosa lessons. With financial aid from the Aquarium he obtained a BSC in Zoology and Environmental Science through UNISA.

In 2008, Khonzani returned to the Environmental Education Centre as an Aquarium Teacher, and continues to run outreach classes to various informal settlements. “The outreach programme is called Township Bus Tours,” says Khonzani. “It is sponsored by the City of Cape Town and focuses on messages around waste minimisation, wetlands and climate change.”

Khonzani loves the infectious excitement on the faces of children at the Aquarium for the first time. “Children hold the survival of our environment in their hands,” he says “People must learn about the sea and our marine environment; they will be shown a new world, and will form a vital connection to the sea.
“We are all part of the food chain. If we do something to break this chain, it has a knock-on effect, not only on the environment but on us. We need to take responsibility for our actions and take better care of the sea.”

The Two Oceans Aquarium Environmental Education Centre provides school and special interest groups the opportunity to experience marine life in a hands-on and interactive way. In the two Discovery Centres, with their specialised workstations complete with built-in aquariums, learners are encouraged to interact with their subjects – be they urchins, crayfish, anemones or starfish.

Specially designed, age-appropriate and curriculum-based lessons capture learners’ imagination and encourage them to discover the amazing wonders of our marine environment. The centre caters for school group visits and runs annual courses like the Junior Biologist (Grade 6), Young Biologist (Grade 10) and Matric revision courses.

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