Cape Town - Nearly a year since the Mandela School of Science and Technology opened its doors in Qunu, Eastern Cape, the 420 pupils there are still upholding the legacy of Madiba through education.
In January, President Jacob Zuma officially opened the school for Grade 8 to 10 pupils. He was accompanied by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Mandela’s grandson, Chief Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela. There are plans to offer Grade 11 classes next year and Grade 12 in 2016.
Residents of nearby Mvezo initially wanted a primary school to be built in the birthplace of the former president, but this changed when Mandela requested a high school be built in 2010.
Before the school was built, there were no schools that offered higher grades in the Mvezo area. Children were forced to travel 60km to schools in Mthatha and some even opted to drop out of school. Today, pupils from Mvezo, Mthatha and surrounding areas have two buses to transport them to school.
On Wednesday, two days before the commemoration of the first anniversary of Madiba’s death, the school held their inaugural awards, attended by German ambassador to South Africa Horst Freitog and Mandla Mandela.
At the ceremony, Grade 10 pupil Mkhuseli Dlulani received the Madiba Magic Award for mathematics, while the Siemens Award for science went to fellow Grade 10 pupil Nxono Meleza.
Lusizi Buhle Lusizi, Soqinase Luzuko Soqinase, Palesa Kobo, Odwa Kobo, Loyiso Kobo, Sonwabili Semane, Loyiso Gana and Mvuyisi Fete took home the Long Walk to Freedom Writers award for their contributions to the Mandela school magazine.
At the ceremony, promising Grade 10 pupils Ntando Tshinayha and Anda August were told they would attend the International Nelson Mandela School in Berlin, Germany, for 10 days next year. Thanks to their excellent academic achievements, they were awarded places on the Inaugural International Mandela School Exchange Programme, a Siemens Stiftung Foundation initiative. They will be accompanied by school principal Pat Toni, where they will meet other pupils from the rest of the world.
“We end our first year as a successful community with inspired parents and teachers, and a great future ahead of us,” said Toni.
Rebecca Ottmann, senior project manager of education at Siemens Stiftung, said the school’s dedicated teachers made education an engaging experience for the students.
“The pupils are so motivated to learn and will benefit from being exposed to different cultures through the exchange programme,” she said.
The school boasts 25 standard classrooms, with three science laboratories. The resource centre has two computer laboratories, an engineering design laboratory and a library.