ACEP Phuhlisa Programme

ACEP Phuhlisa students celebrate their graduation:Dr Niall Vine, 5 Honours students, Garth van Heerden, Prof Danie Okeyo


One of the key issues associated with transforming the demographics of the marine science community is that, even with quotas, open competitive research calls often do not result in the levels of successful transformation wished for. Currently, marine science is primarily conducted by historically white, previously advantaged universities; the postgraduate schools within these institutions do not reflect the demography of South Africa.

After discussions with the NRF and the DST it was decided that, in addition to the open research call quotas, a specific and ring-fenced tool was required to ensure black South African postgraduates are trained within the marine sector and that marine science is entrenched more deeply at Historically Black Universities (HBUs).

The ACEP Phuhlisa (Development) programme has been planned and designed around key impediments which limit entrance or participation in marine science, as articulated by HBU researchers and students.

The ACEP Phuhlisa programme was established in early 2012 and is being run in partnership with the University of Fort Hare, Walter Sisulu University, University of the Western Cape and University of Zululand. The marine disciplines initially involved included zoology, biotechnology, microbiology, geology, botany and GIS.

The programme has been exceptionally well received and is fully subscribed. Key characteristics include:

HBU supervisors are twinned with National Facility (SAIAB and SAEON) co-supervisors.

Life skills courses form a key part of the programme

  • Swimming
  • Skipper training
  • Field safety
  • First Aid

Additional academic courses for second language science students:

  • Academic writing
  • Statistics
  • Professional communications

Provision of field logistics for HBU researchers.

Provision of specialised marine equipment and technicians to HBU researchers.

HBU researcher/supervisor development courses.

Phuhlisa Model


ACEP believes that this programme of intensive one-on-one training, which is not provided in the traditional postgraduate environment at universities, produces the outcomes which are required to address current demographic imbalances.

Working closely with the University of Fort Hare, Walter Sisulu University, University of the Western Cape and University of Zululand. we aim to produce top class black graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds through guided Honours, Masters and PhD programmes, with specialised tutoring by mentors to cover possible gaps in their education.


Students to date:




Angus Paterson
Garth van Heerden
Ryan Palmer
Koos Smith
Zipho Canda
Siseko Benya
Thor Eriksen
Errol Wiles

Change Detection of Headland Sand Dunes and Mapping of Estuarine Wetland Species