More than 4 million people live in Cape Town and its local suburbs, surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful mountains, beaches and scenery. Unfortunately, many local residents have yet to experience the New7Wonders of Nature on their doorstep – with a trip up Table Mountain in the cable car.
As a way to provide greater access to the mountain, in 2001 the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC) launched its Class in the Clouds programme. The programme gives learners and their teachers the opportunity of swapping their classrooms for a fun day of interactive learning at the top of the mountain.
According to Wahida Parker, Managing Director at TMACC, the Class in the Clouds was started as a way to give back, educate and inspire the youth of local communities. ”We aim to empower and upskill youngsters to improve their access to tertiary education and possible job opportunities, adding value to the lives of our youth.”
As the brainchild of John Harrison, the former Managing Director of TMACC from February 1993 until October 2006, the programme has seen more than 323 000 thousand learners experience the top of Table Mountain in all its beauty.
“Our Class in the Clouds initiative offers young people a unique outdoor experience combining fresh air, breathtaking views across the Mother City, educational walks and fascinating facts about the biodiversity of Table Mountain,” says Parker.
As part of the lockdown regulations, TMACC has been unable to open its operations to accommodate visitors. But this hasn’t stopped the organisation from finding new ways for students to access the mountain, including the development of a 360 virtual tour of the top of the mountain.
“This brings a whole new dimension to our Class in the Clouds programme,” says Parker. “Learners and educators now have the chance to explore the mountain virtually. The experience allows students and teachers to traverse the pathways and experience our beautiful scenery online.”
Parker explains that the tour is available on the TMACC website and there are further plans to incorporate storytelling and voice activated narration as part of the experience.
Caring for communities
TMACC recognises the need to contribute positively to communities and organisations in need. Every year the Cableway supports a number of non-profit organisations, underprivileged communities and school learners by making it possible for them to experience a day out on the mountain, or by providing tickets that may be used as a competition prize to raise funds for a good cause.
“While we navigate the uncertainties around the current challenges that we face as an operation, we have had to rethink the way we do things to be able to make the mountain accessible to visitors,” explains Parker.
“In addition to the virtual tour, we are currently putting plans in place to bring the mountain to learners by arranging visits by our tour guides to schools.”
Resources for teachers
The programme includes a two hour informative guided walking tour along the summit of Africa’s Wonder of Nature. It also includes grade specific and curriculum-aligned educational worksheets for primary and high school learners, incorporating life sciences and social sciences subjects.
The educational packs include fun, interactive activities for learners such as word searches, quizzes, crosswords and group challenges. Facilitator notes equip teachers with a summary of the information contained in the packs, as well as mini assessments that they can set for their students.
“The educational materials for our programme are all available online and can be downloaded from our website to provide teachers and educational assistants with unique resources for their students,” explains the Class in the Clouds programme manager, Fiona Magobiane.
“As a leader in responsible tourism, social investment forms an important part of this – particularly through programmes like Class in the Clouds,” Parker concludes. Click here to experience Table Mountain virtually: https://www.tablemountain.net/content/page/class-in-the-clouds
For more information on the Class in the Clouds, please contact Fiona Magobiane at (021) 424 0015, or email firstname.lastname@example.org