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Learning to care for our world on Intaka Island, Cape Town

Intaka Island picOne hundred students from the LEAP Science & Maths School participated in a three-day camp consisting of hands-on science lessons at Intaka Island during the April 2013 school holiday.

Intaka Island staff led the LEAP students as they took water samples, analysed organisms with microscopes, identified birds and other wildlife, observed recycling efforts on the island, learned about water filtration systems, and acted out plays that the students wrote about birds living on the island.

“We have a Code of Conduct that we follow at LEAP,” said Maths teacher Mona Ewees. “These are our shared values in the school. One of them is to ‘Care for Our World’. Intaka Island is a great place for us to teach our students how they can start caring for our world right here in Cape Town.”

The LEAP Science & Maths School is a high-achieving school for township students from grades 9 to 12. With two campuses in Cape Town, LEAP serves students from Langa, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha and Crossroads. The schools provide student-centred, maths and science-focused education to promising students with a focus on enabling self-awareness and ensuring optimal academic results.

Last year LEAP boasted a 94% Matric Pass rate. LEAP uses an extended school day and students are in classes until 17h15 every day. Extra classes are run on Saturday and during holiday periods.

“At LEAP we try to use every single chance we can to gain more teaching time,” said English teacher Geordie Brackin. “During holiday periods, we run enrichment camps so our students have access to important out-of-the-classroom learning opportunities. Intaka Island was perfect for us because of its focus on environmental education, sustainability and wildlife preservation. The students were able to learn in a way that was very real for them.”

“I left Intaka Island knowing a lot more about birds and plants than when I arrived,” said Grade 9 student Khanyisa Mpemba. “I loved learning about the different birds like the Red-Knobbed Coot and the Egyptian Goose. The Egyptian Goose stays with one partner for their whole life, which means they don’t cheat. In the minds of the Egyptian Goose it is ‘till death do us part’.”

Because LEAP is a low-fee independent school, it relies on fundraising from private donors to pay for the majority of a student’s fees. Intaka Island generously provided program support and field rangers to guide the students through each of the four science activity stations.

“Our students had an unforgettable educational experience at Intaka,” said Brackin. “They are already asking about coming back next year!”

“I want to say thank you to the entire staff at Intaka Island,” said Grade 9 student Thuthula Luke. “We learned so many things about nature in our time here. You made us feel so welcome. I can honestly say I felt like I belonged here.”

Intaka – which means bird in Xhosa, is a 16ha wetland and bird sanctuary situated just 7km north of the Cape Town CBD.  The wetland is an example of nature conservation and property development co-existing in harmony. Find out more at


Values - Everyone at LEAP commits to:

  • Being kind, honest and healthy
  • Being punctual and looking good
  • Working hard and never giving up
  • Admitting and learning from mistakes
  • Confronting issues and being open to change
  • Working together and sharing