April is a busy month for our bursary recipients as CPUT and UWC host their graduation ceremonies. Amongst the students graduating this month is Avile Mabhengu who has just completed his diploma in environmental management at CPUT. Many students at CPUT are required to complete a short period of in-service training at the conclusion of their academic studies and Avile ended up undertaking one of the more interesting internships undertaken by a Masicorp bursary recipient. Like most students he initially attempted to find a place within the Western Cape, but despite his excellent academic record, his interviews with local environmental organisations were unsuccessful or he was offered positions not directly relevant to his course. It was then that his course supervisor at CPUT advised him to take a position with the provincial government in Mpumalanga.
At 1,600 km from Cape Town it was a long way from home, but with the help of bursary funding he was able to travel north and find rented accommodation in the vicinity of his new workplace. It seems a long way to travel for training, but Mpumalanga is an ideal location for an environmental manager. With a long history of mining, Mpumalanga accounts for 83% of South Africa’s coal production. Most of South Africa’s coal power stations are in proximity to the coal deposits and so the area faces some of the largest pollution and waste management challenges in the country. Avile soon found himself monitoring emissions from Eskom power stations, and then attending a regional air pollution conference in Bloemfontein. Overall it was an ideal experience for an environmental student.
His time in Mpumalanga also coincided with the onset of a severe drought that has afflicted the country. In addition to the technical aspects of his work his training also involved an environmental education component. Avile can be seen here as part of a government team educating local communities on the sustainable use of water.
Avile has now returned to Cape Town with his training successfully completed. His grades have been sufficiently good to enable him to return to postgraduate study at CPUT, where he will complete a BTech in Environmental Management. We are not sure if he will find his way to Mpumalanga again, but once his postgraduate studies are completed this interesting period of in-service training is sure to be an invaluable part of his CV.