Children from poor neighbourhoods will be able to look to the skies for job opportunities in the future, say those behind an aviation programme that got off the ground at the weekend.
The Progressive Principals Association (PPA), with the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SA-CAA), launched the programme at Sans Souci Girls’ High School in Newlands, on Saturday.
It will expose school pupils to opportunities in the country’s aviation industry, encouraging them to look heavenwards when plotting their career flight paths, says Faiek Abrahams, a spokesman for the PPA.
The PPA planned to create more awareness about the aviation industry by first visiting interested schools and explaining the world of aviation, he said.
It was a career option unavailable at most schools, he said.
The programme’s second step would be to take pupils to airfields, airports and hangars so they could meet people in the industry and feel what it was like to sit in a helicopter or an aeroplane.
“In the third step, we would like to create career opportunities in the next three years for the future generation of pupils to become pilots and engineers,” Mr Abrahams said.
The PPA hoped to roll out the programme this month in the 10 schools that had attended the launch, he said, adding that once the project picked up steam it could be expanded to other schools, including elsewhere in the province.
“It will take time to roll out this programme, though the ultimate vision is that the programme will be launched to all the various areas,” he said.
The SA-CAA will help pupils explore aviation career options and advise them on what to study to get into those jobs.
The Airports Company South Africa, the SA Air Force and Cape Town Helicopters are also part of the programme.
SA-CAA regional manager Themba Thabethe said the programme was long overdue.
“What the SA-CAA wants from this programme is sustainability so that this programme is not once-off, that it can grow in the next four to five years.”
The SA-CAA would try to get more aviation companies to join the programme and share their knowledge with the school pupils, he said.
The SA-CAA offers bursaries to school pupils wanting to become pilots and flight engineers.
Brian Schreuder, the superintendent general of the Western Cape Education Department, thanked the PPA for helping to open career choices for school leavers.
“Aviation can now be an option for pupils who have not had this opportunity before,” he said.
Sans Souci Girls’ High School, Windsor High School, Dryden Street Primary School, Cedar Primary School, Golden Grove Primary School, Glendale Secondary School, Caradale Primary School, Kenmere Primary School and Kensington High School were among the schools at the launch.
Principal Diane Morgan, of Windsor High School, said the programme held great promise.
“For a long time there wasn’t much exposure in schools given to the aviation industry, though this programme can open up a world for pupils.”