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AFRICAN EXCELLENCE: Two South African schools named in Top 10 shortlist for World’s Best School Prizes

Published Jun 9, 2022

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Video by Tracey Adams

Cape Town – Two South African schools have been named in the Top 10 shortlist for World’s Best School Prizes.

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Pinelands North Primary School and West End Primary have been named in Top 10 for World’s Best School Prize for Overcoming Adversity.

The prize, launched this year by T4 Education in partnership with the Templeton World Charity Foundation, Accenture and American Express, identified the two Cape Town schools, one in Pinelands and the other in Mitchells Plain, as among the world’s Top 10 schools.

The five World’s Best School Prizes celebrate schools everywhere for the pivotal role they play in developing the next generation of learners and for their contribution to society’s progress especially in the wake of Covid-19.

Vikas Pota, founder of T4 Education and the World’s Best School Prizes, said: “With over 1.5 billion learners impacted by school and university closures, Covid-19 has greatly exacerbated a global education crisis in which, even before the pandemic, the UN warned progress was already too slow to achieve universal quality education by 2030.

“I want to congratulate Pinelands North Primary School and West End Primary for making the Top 10 shortlists for the inaugural World’s Best School Prizes. Educators all over the world will now be able to learn from the examples of these outstanding South African schools.”

West End Primary is in Mitchells Plain in the heart of the Cape Flats, where communities struggle with the challenges of poverty, unemployment, gangsterism and substance abuse.

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The school has initiated the “Box of Hope” project, by having parents, staff and community members donating much-needed items to impoverished learners and families.

This was done to support the learners by making sure they were taken care of not only at school, but by having a meal when they go home as well. Teachers also bought clothes, toys, toiletries and money for learners to go on educational excursions.

The Top 3 finalists for each of the five World’s Best School Prizes – for Community Collaboration, Environmental Action, Innovation, Overcoming Adversity and Supporting Healthy Lives – will be announced later this year.

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After a public advisory vote, the winner of each prize will be chosen based on criteria by a Judging Academy comprising distinguished leaders from across the globe including academics, educators, social entrepreneurs, and members of NGOs, governments, civil society, and the private sector.

The winners will be announced in October at World Education Week. A prize of $250 000 (about R3.8 million) will be equally shared among the winners of the five prizes, with each receiving an award of $50 000.

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All 50 shortlisted schools across the five prizes will share their best practices through tool kits that showcase their “secret sauce” to innovative approaches and step-by-step instructions on how others can replicate their methods to help improve education everywhere.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and Education MEC David Maynier visited the schools on Thursday.

“This is a proud day for our province and our country. To have 2 of our province’s schools shortlisted among the top 10 schools in the world in the category of ‘overcoming adversity’ is a massive achievement – setting a benchmark not only for our province but indeed the world over,” said Winde.

Winde said the schools achieved this by working together with dedicated teachers, SGB members, administrators and other employees, as well as the broader community.

He praised learners from these schools who played an important role in representing their schools and their values.

Maynier said: “I am very proud of both schools and of the way in which their school communities have come together to overcome adversity. The fact our province’s schools were the only ones in South Africa to make it into the top 10 in any category speaks volumes about the incredible work that our principals and teachers and schools are doing to deliver quality education in the Western Cape.”

National Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said: “Our school communities have had to overcome many challenges, both past and present. Amidst these challenges, be it poverty, discrimination, gangsterism or violence, many of our schools rise above their social circumstances – overcoming adversity – and embracing opportunity. These schools have a lot to offer the world in terms of best practice.”

“I am therefore delighted that two South African schools have been nominated in the top 10 in the prestigious World Best School Prizes. We are extremely proud to have not just one, but two schools, Pinelands North PS and West End PS, representing our country on the world stage.’

The schools will now compete for the Top 3 positions and then the ultimate prize.

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