Two SA schools in the running for overcoming adversity in the world

Two South African schools have been named in the Top 10 shortlists for the World’s Best School Prizes, launched in 2022 by T4 Education in partnership with Templeton World Charity Foundation, Accenture and American Express.

Pinelands North Primary School in Cape Town and West End Primary in Mitchells Plain, have both been named in the Top 10 shortlist for the World’s Best School Prize for Overcoming Adversity.

The five World’s Best School Prizes, founded by T4 Education in partnership with Accenture, American Express, Yayasan Hasanah, Templeton World Charity Foundation, and the Lemann Foundation, celebrate schools everywhere for the pivotal role they play in developing the next generation of learners and for their enormous contribution to society’s progress especially in the wake of COVID-19.

The two South African schools are competing against countries in Australia, Malaysia, India, Uganda, Brazil, Jamaica, Kenya and Nigeria, in the category of “Overcoming Adversity”.

Pinelands North Primary School is recognised as one of the country’s leading institutions when it comes to fostering inclusivity in education. When its principal, Ann Morton, took up the role in 1997, South Africa was emerging from the shadow of Apartheid, and the student population of her school was still predominantly white. Today Pinelands is a beacon of diversity. The ethos of Pinelands North centres on building relationships within the school’s community and breaking down barriers. Creating an inclusive environment allows for a sense of belonging for families who don’t fit a traditional and normative family structure. All pupils, male or female, wear the same uniforms to be less traditional and more comfortable.shorts and tshirts, which are designed The school has brought in gender neutral bathrooms and everyone, including teachers, is addressed by their first name. Addition to this, From Grade 2, students are taught sign language. When the school accepted its first transgender pupil, it provided guidance for families about gender identities and trained staff through workshops on how to guide parents to adapt to the school’s new policies. This philosophy extends to animal welfare: students are encouraged to take care of animals and view them as part of the family. A p programme was set up for pupils to volunteer to be “animal monitors” and help coach each other on how best to handle the animals under their care. In the wake of the pandemic, Pinelands North’s governing body quickly implemented a fund to assist families who were struggling financially, had all staff participate in bereavement and trauma training to better support pupils and parents during COVID and opened an online school for students who could no longer attend classes in person.

West End Primary in Mitchells Plain, has taught students of colour throughout its history and has felt the weight of the country’s struggle against the legacy of Apartheid. One of the school’s teachers at that time was arrested and incarcerate with Nelson Mandela.

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 range of initiatives the school launched has sought to challenge students to dream beyond their individual circumstance and become passionate in their endeavours. The staff noted they could do this through the power of extracurricular and extra mural activities.

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 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.

“We have launched the World’s Best School Prizes as a grassroots solution to help build the systemic change needed. By telling the stories of inspirational schools that are transforming the lives of their students and making a real difference to their communities, schools can share their best practices and have their voices heard at the top table to help transform education.

Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde, said that the nomination of the two schools is a massive achievement.

“Under the leadership of Principals Ann Morton and Clive Arries, Pinelands North Primary and West End Primary, respectively, have stood out for overcoming adversity – by giving each and every learner the opportunity to succeed in a caring and nurturing school environment. They achieved this by working together with many dedicated teachers, SGB members, administrators and other employees, as well as the broader community.”

“Of course, the learners of these schools have also played an important role in representing their schools and its values – well done to each of you, you can be very proud of this achievement! These efforts are empowering our young people and set an example of excellence within our education system. Going forward, T4 will open up voting to the public and I strongly encourage residents to take part in it – to truly showcase the amazing work being done right here in our province,” he added

Education MEC, David 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.”

Reacting to the news, Principal of Pinelands North PS, Anne Morton are so excited that our school has been chosen commented: “ We this validates the community’s hard work over the past 20 years.” While Clive Arries, Principal of West End PS said: “ We are humbled by the facilitation and accolade to be nominated as one of the top ten schools in the world for our endeavours in MANAGING ADVERSITY and CREATING opportunities for our learners and school community. Everyone is excited and we are looking forward to representing, school but sharing the best practices of schools across South Africa.”

National Minister for Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, says she's delighted by the announcement.

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

The schools will now compete for the Top 3 positions and then the ultimate prize. We sincerely hope that the whole of South Africa will join us in celebrating their success and supporting them in the next phase!

The top school in the World will walk away with $250,000 World’s Best School Prizes.


Done By: Mitchum George


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