Three of South Africa’s leading schools have been successful in making it into the 2011 Global Education and Skills: An Oxbridge Guide publication.
The guide is a collaborative endeavor between old rivals, the student unions of Oxford and Cambridge universities in the UK.
Its objective is to provide a wide-ranging point of view of schooling throughout the world, from nursery all the way up to college level. It illustrates the standard and quality of schooling to choose from, not only the private exclusive institutions but in addition the exceptional government-funded schools.
About 55 000 copies are going to be handed out world wide, to embassies and decision-makers in both the public and private sector.
Queen’s College in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape, Hilton College in KwaZulu-Natal and Benoni High School in Gauteng have been included as a result of their innovative strategies to the development of their pupils.
Queen’s and Hilton are boys-only colleges sharing well over 300 years of outstanding schooling. Benoni High School, on the other hand, is a mixed-gender school which first opened its doors in 1922.
From the three, only the iconic Hilton College, opened in 1872 and later on revamped to reflect its current Cape-Dutch architectural style, happens to be an independent school.
The pride of Queenstown
Queen’s College, among the oldest schools in the country, was established in 1858. The honour of being ranked among the 150 outstanding learning centres showcased is all the more impressive if one takes into account that Queen’s is a regular government school.
Hayden Buchholz, the college’s marketing director, states that the selection process began in 2010 the moment the college was initially approached by representatives from the two British universities.
“It was quite a lengthy process,” recalls Buchholz, adding that inclusion is actually by invitation only.
The accolade is going to do a good deal to draw in positive local and international interest to the school which has already been observed from the higher volume of applications for 2012, several coming from as far afield as Dubai.
“Schools are beginning to run themselves as businesses,” said Buchholz. “It is extremely competitive out there, and it is not simply essential to be good in terms of academia and sport, but additionally in cultural and social areas.”
Queen’s can be described as a completely representative school, reflecting the diversity of the area in which it is situated, with the majority of of its pupils hailing from the province. The school has a 70:30 black-white ratio.
The college is by the same token well-liked by Johannesburg parents who would like to send their boys to Queen’s to grow up in the wholesome, rural environment of the Eastern Cape, adds Buchholz.
In essence, the guide viewed the school’s diversified offerings, and just how effectively it equips its pupils entering into their adult years, says Buchholz.
A considerable number of Queen’s old boys have grown to be successful and respected adults within their respective fields, most notably former Proteas batsman Daryll Cullinan and Neville Koopowitz, CEO of major health insurance company Discovery.
Tradition and pride
In many respects Hilton College, based in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal, displays the diversity of the modern day world. Here pupils combine from as far as Europe and the Middle East, in addition to the African continent.
While the well-kept grounds and immaculate buildings speak of decades of tradition and pride, simple fact is that it is the high quality of schooling that goes on inside these buildings which has built the foundation well over 130 years.
“Hilton is an all-boarding school,” says Paul Guthrie, director of marketing at the college. “There is a robust camaraderie and bond amongst the boys, and good manners and gentlemanly conduct continues to hold strong.”
Guthrie believes that the school stands apart due to its focus not merely on typical school based activities, but additionally on the continuing development of its pupils into well-balanced individuals. The school has a leadership system that demands each Grade 12 pupil to take on leadership roles and responsibilities.
“The idea is that Hilton boys understand early that they are an important part of a greater whole, the fact that they live within a multicultural society and additionally that they share a common humanity.”
Benoni High School, which was established in 1922, with its motto of Quam Optime (Latin, meaning “better than the best), has proven beyond doubt to be a leader in academic, sporting and cultural activities.
While academic achievement is unquestioned, and matric pupils successfully pass with consistently high marks, furthermore the school’s teachers have also been acknowledged by the Gauteng Department of Education as some of the country’s very best.
Ever since the early 1990s the school band has held national drumming and band champion titles without a break, and in 2006 it succeeded in winning the world title for Grade 4A at the Drum Corps world championships. Pupils in addition do well at public speaking, art and drama, in particular at eisteddfods.
With regards to sporting activities, the swimming and water polo teams are recognized for their success and competitiveness, much like the cricket, football and rugby teams.