Sobantu pupils and teacher have Dubai in their sights after winning UN competition

2016-02-10 06:00
                                                                                                   PHOTO: ian carbutt Sobantu Secondary School reseachers Fezeka Bengu, Thandeka Sibiya (English teacher), Thobeka Shange and Nokubonga Xaba.

PHOTO: ian carbutt Sobantu Secondary School reseachers Fezeka Bengu, Thandeka Sibiya (English teacher), Thobeka Shange and Nokubonga Xaba.

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A RESEARCH project on sustainable living may have earned three Pietermaritzburg pupils and their teacher a trip to Dubai.

Last year, Sobantu Secondary School pupils Fezeka Bengu (17), Thobeka Shange (16), Nokubonga Xaba (17) and their English teacher, Thandeka Sibiya, entered a competition publicised on the United Nations’ website.

Their essay ensured they were chosen among the finalists from a selection of 834 schools in 45 countries that entered. The pupils highlighted the negative impact the landfill site in their community has on their lives, and how it could be used to sustain the community in future.

“Today the world needs solutions as a result of shortages of electricity, as experienced in many cities in South Africa last year. Load shedding is still a problem.

“The landfill gases can be captured, converted and used as an energy­ source. It is for this reason that our study focuses on converting the challenges of pollution to solutions­. Methane from the city’s landfill can be converted to a usable energy source.

“This is one example in many that can be a solution to our advantage­ and minimise global warming.

“The most valuable lessons learnt from the research is that we fully understand that waste can be turned around and be used positively, not just to benefit the country, but to assist affected communities start job opportunities, and improve air quality by reusing waste,” they wrote.

Having learnt that its pupils had made the finals, the school appealed for funding from local government and private entities. A radio­ station, which interviewed the pupils, donated R1 000.

It will be a dream come true for the three and their teacher to travel abroad for the first time if they can raise the money for the travel costs.

Sibiya said she was excited on learning they had made the finals, “but for a short while, because I realise­ we need money to go there”.

She said the pupils had worked tirelessly in collecting information and interviewing people for the research.

“We are also involved in other projects, like researching the history­ of Sobantu, which we presented at national conferences. They deserve to represent the country. I’m excited because they will now realise that the world doesn’t end in Pietermaritzburg, or even in South Africa. This will give them a global perspective­ of events,” said Sibiya.

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