Mvezo - Societies advance through science and technology and South Africa should not be left behind, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.
“This school is unique,” he said at the launch of the Mandela School of Science and Technology in Mvezo, Eastern Cape.
“It will therefore provide solid grounding for learners and address the skills shortages in these areas in the country.”
The school focused on engineering, science, technology, and agriculture.
It was the first high school to be built in Mvezo, where former president Nelson Mandela was born, and was inspired by the anti-apartheid icon.
Zuma said the school would be an institution of excellence.
“This school turned Madiba's dream into a reality which will change lives.”
Zuma officially opened the school on Friday, although children had been in class since the beginning of the week.
He urged pupils to work hard as they were a direct link to Mandela.
“Madiba was passionate about education, about the plight of children, because they are the future of the country. I urge all the learners... that in memory of Madiba you should use the opportunity constructively. Study hard and build yourself a bright future.”
The school catered for children from Mvezo and other villages in the area.
Earlier, Zuma unveiled a plaque at the school's entrance. He was accompanied by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Eastern Cape premier Noxolo Kiviet, and Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela. The event was attended by pupils, their parents, MPs, traditional leaders and the provincial government's leadership.
The school has 420 pupils, in grade eight, nine and 10. Next year grade 11 classes would start and in 2016 the school would have its first group of matrics.
The school runs on renewable energy Ä wind and solar. There are three big wind turbines in front of the school and each classroom block is fitted with solar panels.
Engineering company Siemens donated R100 million towards the building of the school and would sustain the school for three years.
Mandla Mandela, the founder of the Mvezo Development Trust, said the school was a true embodiment of his family.
The school buildings were named after his grandfather, his father, and other members of the family. The teachers' living quarters were named after the women in the family.
“Today hope is instilled in this community. Today is a realisation of a dream,” he said.