ROLE MODEL: Arup engineer, Vivienne Roberts, talks to Grade 12 pupils at Alexander Sinton High School in Athlone.

STAFF WRITER

Several thousand high school pupils in the Greater Cape Town area have learnt about the exciting possibilities of careers in design, through the School Design Week project.

This is an initiative of the Cape Craft and Design Institute’s\[mlungisi.mthembu\] (CCDI) Design Support programme and is an |official World Design Capital 2014 project\[mlungisi.mthembu\] (#252).

A major part of the programme is introducing pupils to positive and inspiring role models. So far, young professionals like jewellery manufacturer Catherine Pichulik and designer Marc Nicolson of Thingking have joined landscape architects, engineers and interior designers in presenting to thousands of pupils at morning assemblies.

In Cape Town there is a huge disparity in skills and education resources, so the organisers have targeted the Focus Schools where design and visual art are offered as a pilot of a larger programme of research into the skills training ecosystem. These are schools where resources and access to bursaries for further study and career information are limited.

There have already been visits to Alexander Sinton (Athlone), Wynberg, Milnerton, Livingstone in Kenilworth, Cedar in Rocklands and Muizenberg High. Pupils\[mlungisi.mthembu\]Learners are also advised on choosing the correct subjects in Grade 9\[mlungisi.mthembu\]nine so that they can follow a design career path at tertiary level. The schools have also sent their creative classes on full day tours of the Open Design festival in the City Hall, followed by a guided workshop in the Design and Making exhibition at the Castle.

These career talks, workshops and field trips also link to the resource book produced by the CCDI called Wanna Have a Designer Future? It increases awareness of work and study possibilities across many design disciplines – from urban planning and interior decorating to video game programming and industrial design. This is all part of the CCDI facilitating the implementation of the Western Cape Design Strategy, which prioritises the need for growing the capacity of teachers and trainers, and addressing transformation in the creative career field.

Richard Kilpert, education co-ordinator for the CCDI, says that access to schools is limited, but with the support of Leon Buchner of the Western Cape Education Department, CCDI has been able to present eye-opening talks to schools that may not be used to the format.

“People like Ancunel Steyn, Inga Gubeka, Vivienne Roberts, Thingking, Robbyn Paschke, Mak1, Claus Rabe and Ricky-Lee Gordon have given their time to make a difference. The life orientation teachers have enjoyed the support in an area that tends to be neglected, and at Milnerton High one pupil said to Catherine Pichulik: ‘I sleep with your business card above my bed.’

“At the presentations at morning assemblies, the visiting designers revisited their Grade 10 world views, tracked their careers through their studies and travels, and then outlined the skills they use in their current positions. This went down well, with many pupils staying behind to swamp them with questions,” says Kilpert.

Comments from Grade 10 and 11 pupils after an excursion included the following:

Lee Delcie said: “I learned many things about design and the impact it can have on people.” Tabassum Ahmed said: “The City Hall excursion was unforgettable and these people inspired me to do greater things.” And Rafeeqah Johnson said: “The video clips of young children giving presentations about apps they had designed was great. The Castle exhibition was also mind-blowing because I did not realise how important recycling is in our daily lives.”

Livingstone High teacher Shirage Davids wrote: “I would like to thank you and all the sponsors who made this event possible. My pupils are now very enthusiastic about design and design-related careers. I will photocopy the design booklet and give it to them. Well done, it was fantastic.”

Next on the programme are the design curriculum support holiday workshops in October for pupils who do not have access to design resources. These will be hosted by Frank Joubert Art Centre in Newlands. There are plans to continue the project as part of the World Design Capital\[mlungisi.mthembu\]WDC legacy programme. World Design Capital\[mlungisi.mthembu\]WDC 2014 has a mandate to show how design can transform the world, and education is a priority area where design – as a subject area and a life skill – can help build a new generation of self-reliant problem-solvers.

“We want to inspire transformation in the creative industries and to unlock innovation as a future economic driver in the province. We will be following up with the distribution of our careers in design booklet and poster to all schools in the province, and are putting the talks into an online video format,” says Kilpert.

For more information e-mail [email protected] or call 021 461 1488. To download Wanna Have a Designer Future? see www.ccdi.org.za/research-and-publications/publications.