Verwelkomingstoespraak by opening van AEL vir 2017

Afwagtende studente word verwelkom deur Fef Le Roux, Voorsitter (Direkteur) van AEL. Hy lewer ‘n dinamiese toespraak en inspireer almal om hoog te mik in 2017. Lees sy volle toespraak hier onder.

’n Baie hartlike welkom aan elkeen van julle. A very warm welcome to everyone of you. My greeting is deliberately in both Afrikaans and English. In Afrikaans because most of you, including myself, are Afrikaans speaking and English, because that is the official language of AEL and most practical for our offering.

I wish to say a couple of things in this regard. Vir redes later genoem is ons mikpunt om ’n internasionale rolspeler te word en ook wesenlike getalle internasionale studente te trek. Dit is nie moontlik om die kursus vir diesulkes in Afrikaans aan te bied nie. Ons kursus trek ook reeds die aandag van internasionale rolspelers, waarvan twee ons vanjaar uit Engeland besoek, wat ook gaslesings sal aanbied. Sodanige internasionale deelnemers sal ook nie ontvang kan word as ons in Afrikaans werk nie. Maar meer belangrik, die vaktaal en omgewingsterminologie wat noodsaaklik is vir die praktyk is ook meesal in Engels, sodat ’n student wat die akademie verlaat in sy werksomgewing sal vind dat Engels makliker en in meeste opsigte die voertaal is. Inteendeel, van die belangrikste wette en handleidings is glad nie in Afrikaans beskikbaar nie. Dit gesê, probeer ons so ver moontlik op persoonlike vlak met studente in hul eie taal kommunikeer.

The Academy of Environmental Leadership is a properly, formally accredited tertiary institution. Tertiary institutions are acutely under scrutiny in recent times for a number of reasons, as most of you will know. Among them are the fee protests we saw last year, political radicalism in many cases and also language issues. We are fortunate as we do not have that. The main reason is that we exist for a purpose that has a different focus – that of a better, healthier environment. Although these objectives may overlap, they are fundamentally different. If you think about it logically, education is one thing, but it means nothing if the environment does not allow reaping the benefits thereof. It is in the pursuit of this fundamentally different focus that we believe issues about politics, protests and language rank second and that our unique curriculum takes priority.

We look at the world from a different angle. If we look around us, we all got up somewhere this morning, put on our clothes and had something to eat. Then we set upon our daily program, eventually departed and here we are – another day in our daily routine. Imagine for a moment being somewhere out in the universe. In itself the universe is something totally incomprehensible as, even today, the best scientists are still in the dark about it. Only 3 months ago, a report was published by Professor Christopher Conselice of the University of Nottingham, who participates in a study of NASA and the European Space Agency, aimed at attempting to calculate the number of galaxies that exist. Remember that one such galaxy is our sun with all its planets, moons, comets, meteorites and other extra-terrestrial bodies. Professor Conselice made the following astonishing announcement. That based on the latest studies of the imagery sent back by the Hubble space telescope, the figure of an estimated 100 billion galaxies determined in the 1990’s had to be revised and that it is now believed that the number of galaxies is at least 10 times more, i.e. a 1000 billion or a 1000% more compared to estimated figures in the nineties.

Now imagine that we are positioned somewhere out there and we look down upon our sun and from there our eyes dwell to the tiny dot called Earth. What do we see as we speak? We see a tiny spherical rock with a brown polluted blanket called atmosphere around it. We see that most of its forests have been removed and destroyed; we see earth warming with rising temperatures and centuries old coral reefs bleaching and starting to die out. We see fauna and flora destroyed and species disappearing on a daily basis. We see whales that die from cancer caused by plastic pollution in the oceans and worst of all, we see over population at a scale that is unimaginable. We focus a little bit closer down towards the southern tip of Africa and lo and behold, there is a piece of land called South Africa with a river called the Orange River. We make a rough assessment and realise that its catchment area makes up about 60% of the surface of the country South Africa and that it flows towards the Atlantic ocean. We follow its course and just upstream of the town of Upington it runs past a place called Uizip and there we see people in a hall opening AEL’s annual program with only one objective in mind – that is to try and improve a fast deteriorating environment. That is our angle, our vision and our aim.

We believe in what we do. We honestly believe that we can help to make a difference by instilling in our students awareness, sensitivity and concern about the environment, a belief that it deserves being turned around and leadership and knowledge to make it happen. Our offering is unique and our cause, we believe, is noble – it is no secret that we are not making money here and that the institution is heavily subsidised. That, I believe, testifies to our determination and commitment to help to make a difference.

Students leaving us will be better equipped and more mature human beings than when they arrived. They will, if they work towards achieving that goal, have a level 5 tertiary qualification behind their names and a number of increased life skills. They will have obtained knowledge, self mastery and confidence in what they do and overall they will be in a substantially better position to handle their future lives. If they want to study further, they would have benefited from subjects such as writing skills and research methodology, which have been identified by universities and colleges as lacking when students enter their first year. We are even working towards credits granted for our qualification by certain universities. If students choose to enter the employment market directly they would have a distinct benefit with a level 5 qualification behind their names. The environmental industry, with its mushrooming employment opportunities in areas such as agriculture, alternative energy and environmental activities is, as we speak, still in its early days and set to become dominant role players in the employment market in decades to come.

I wish to congratulate you with your decision to join AEL and want to thank you for becoming part of our vision. You will not regret it.

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