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Add Marine Sciences to your subject choice list in Grade 9

Marine Sciences as a school subject is gaining popularity. Picture: Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Marine Sciences as a school subject is gaining popularity. Picture: Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Published Oct 26, 2021


Choosing your subject in Grade 9 is the first step in building your career path. The subjects you choose to continue with to Grade 10 may well determine what matric exam papers you will write and therefore what tertiary qualification you will be pursuing.

With that being said, the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation would like to remind pupils that they can select Marine Sciences as an eighth subject choice for 2022.

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Marine Sciences was first offered at three “node schools” in the Western Cape in 2019. In 2020, it was recognised as an official school subject and, in 2021, was included in the school curriculum. Since then, a number of students have been receiving instruction in the subject, both at the node schools and through the foundation’s online learning programme.

The subject is made up of four pillars: marine biology, oceanography, ocean ecosystems, and humans and the ocean. The course work covers 85 topics, including marine phyla; the chemistry of water; gas laws used for diving science; sustainable seafood; aquaculture; and marine protected areas. The subject is presented over three years and counts towards the learners’ matric certificate.

Deputy head of education at Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation Xavier Zylstra said Marine Sciences was a powerful new subject.

“If you’re passionate about the ocean and life in the ocean and think you may want to go into a career involving marine biology or oceanography, then this is one of your steps up to university.

“Even if you’re not aiming for a career in marine biology and oceanography, the content and many academic skills you will learn will equip you to succeed in tertiary studies in other fields. You will also be a knowledgeable amateur marine biologist, with the ability to identify, to some extent, most organisms that you can expect to see while rock-pooling or snorkelling along the South African coastline,” said Zylstra.

The subject is already being offered at some schools.

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Angelina Jade Ingpen, a learner at Reddam House who is currently taking Marine Sciences as a subject, said: “Marine Sciences offers a way for me to learn and experience the beauty of the ocean from my own desk. It has taught me so much already about the thing I love so much and allowed me to appreciate every aspect of how incredible the ocean really is.”

The subject is being taught online.

Online facilitation of the course is done via Zoom and the foundation’s e-learning platform. The course requires a commitment of four hours a week, which is broken down into two two-hour sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays. The course also has a practical learning component completed during the South African public school holidays. Examinations are written at pupils’ schools or at a designated examination centre. The starting date for the next intake for the subject is January 24.

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Teachers who have been teaching Marine Sciences at schools offering it note that the subject reaches far beyond just knowledge of the ocean.

“The subject is thought-provoking and stimulating, which keeps the learners engaged in every lesson. I think it’s an important subject for learners to consider taking, because it allows them to challenge themselves. The subject stimulates great discussions in class that involve real-life scenarios,” said Simon’s Town High School teacher Asheeqah Davis.

She said the subject allowed learners to be able to explore the unknown and prepared them to critically navigate their way in the world and, most importantly, to be ocean-conscious.

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Examinations and assessments will be arranged with each adult participant individually, depending on whether they are interested in pursuing their National Senior Certificate, or would simply like a certificate of completion from the foundation.

Registration for the full Marine Sciences 2022 course opened on August 25, 2021. For more information and to register, please visit or email [email protected].