LIVINGSTONE High, the school whose name became synonymous with a relentless fight for non-racialism and the provision of excellence during the apartheid era, is set to get a R1 million boost.
And there’s a promise of more to come to help it continu e its historic mission of providing quality education for all its pupils.
The announcement was made by Sekunjalo Investment Holdings executive chairman Dr Iqbal Survé, as part of Survé Philanthrophies. Survé, also Independent Media executive chairman, was the guest speaker at Livingstone’s 90th anniversary dinner in the school hall on Saturday.
Central to the ambitions of the school has been a decades-long desire for a science laboratory.
Advanced tutoring programmes for mathematics and science, and computers with relevant software programmes for the school library have also featured high on Livingstone’s wish-list – which is now about to become a reality.
“When my team met to discuss how we could help Livingstone, we decided to ask principal Theo Bruinders and his team to tell us what they needed,” Dr Survé, a Livingstone alumnus who matriculated in 1981, told an audience of more than 200 mainly former pupils and teachers, and their spouses.
“They told us the school wanted to advance what it offered in mathematics, science and literature.”
He stressed the importance of a laboratory being available for pupils at the school. “When I went to medical school at UCT, the fact that black students were from schools that did not have laboratories proved disastrous for us in our first year.
“While students from institutions such as Bishops, SACS and Rustenburg could work on a Bunsen burner, we had no such practical experience. All we knew was what we had read up about the subject.”
He said experiments involving, say, the dissection of frogs were equally problematical. “Black students often ended up cutting their fingers, a result of schools not having laboratories,” he said. “We are very happy to commit towards helping Livingstone meet its goals in this respect.”
Although Survé said he could not quantify the total monetary value of this help, he made a personal commitment, which he said would probably amount to about R1m – in the beginning.
He said a key part of the project would also involve the launching of an internship programme.
“All the companies in our group will participate in providing mentorship for pupils from Livingstone.
This would form part of a full programme of initiatives, over and above the R1m commitment, that will be launched to help Livingstone achieve its targets, Survé said.
Explaining what had prompted him to become so personally involved in helping the school to achieve its ambitions, he said, simply: “Livingstone is a very special school.”
He said he would always be thankful that he had been one of its pupils – and that he had had the opportunity to participate in its various activities, most notably in sport and the SRC. It was in the SRC that he honed his understanding of politics, having been raised in an apolitical home.
“I’ve always seen Livingstone as a school that both produces and demands excellence from its pupils,” Survé said.
“The school is able to demand excellence, primarily because of its principals and teachers. They promoted the values, the culture and the principles that we all bought into.
“They made us believe that everything is possible.”
Survé said that like many other pupils at the school, he came from a poor family background. “My family was not wealthy at all. But the way we were taught at Livingstone, and the way we were inspired, made us believe in the school song penned by Ray Carlier – that we could indeed conquer the world.”
But what happens after goals are met and the “world is conquered”?
“Giving back” is something that Survé says sits high on his list of priorities. “We do a lot,” he says. “We award about 350 bursaries a year. We support 150 people in music. And we’re involved in anti-trafficking programmes and other kinds of things.
“The reason we are different is because we believe, like Livingstone has taught generations of its pupils, in dignity for everyone.
“For, in making the world today, we learn who we are.”