Minister Grant's Address at De Villiers Graaff High School's 140th Anniversary | Western Cape Government


Minister Grant's Address at De Villiers Graaff High School's 140th Anniversary

4 October 2012

Mr C Punt, Honourable Mayor, Theewaterskloof Municipality,

Sir David Graaff and Lady Sally Graaff of De Grendel Estate, Cape Town,

Ms Freislich, Principal of De Villiers Graaf HS, and principals of the neighbouring schools present here today,

Officials of the Western Cape Education Department,

Officials of the Theewaterskloof Municipality,

Members of the community,

Members of the SGB,

Educators, parents and learners.


I am delighted to be here today on such a prestigious occasion.

There are not many schools in this province that have survived 140 years – especially 140 years of dramatic change and new education opportunities.

1872 was a long time ago. We were still the Cape Colony back then, with the diamond and gold rush in full swing.

It is always difficult to imagine how different those times were. To help you I want to read a list of instructions given to teachers in a country school in America in the same year in which your school started 1872.

These instructions include:

  1. Teachers will fill lamps, clean chimneys and trim wicks each day.
  2. Each teacher will bring a scuttle of coal and a bucket of water for the day’s use.
  3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs for the individual tastes of children.
  4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
  5. After ten hours in school, the teacher should spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
  6. Women teachers who marry or engage in other unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
  7. Every teacher should lay aside from his pay a goodly sum for his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.
  8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents a pool or public hall, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason for suspecting his worth, intentions, integrity and honesty.
  9. The teacher who performs his labors faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of 25 cents a week in his pay providing the board of education approves.

I can just imagine what your teachers would think of this list of instructions if they were implemented today!

How times have changed – certainly so in South Africa.

Sine 1872, we have undergone a transformation, withstanding the South African War, Colonisation, the days of the Union Government, and later Apartheid, the end of Apartheid, and then the advent of Democracy.

But surviving through all this was the De Villiers Graaff High School.

A school with a long proud history of stability, achievements and success. 

A school that - still to this day - is realising its goals and is succeeding in providing quality education to the children of this beautiful Villiersdorp town. For the one constant factor which has characterised this school over the last 140 years is its commitment to serve children, to empower them and to open the door to life’s opportunities.

As the Education Department our main priority is to achieve outstanding results, ensuring that as many of our learners complete their school career with an NSC pass.

Ek is baie bly om te sien dat die gehalte van onderwys by hierdie skool konstant hoog gebly het oor die afgelope paar jaar, terwyl leerders ‘n slaagsyfer van meer as 90% in die NSS-eksamen behaal het.

Die klas van 2012 het ‘n hoë standaard wat nagejaag moet word.

Can I have a show of hands who is in Grade 12?

Do you think you can improve on this, this year?

I certainly hope so. And I sincerely believe that it can be achieved.

Watter beter manier is daar om die 140ste herdenking te vier as met ‘n 100% slaagsyfer aan die einde van die jaar!

Die grondslae vir sukses is reeds hier, en nou hang dit van julle af om op hierdie grondslae voort te bou regdeur tot Oktober.

Whether you are in Grade 1 or in Grade 12, or whether you come from Villiersdorp Secondary or Kosie de Wet Primary, each of you have been given the opportunity to learn, to be taught, guided and stimulated by your educators and school management team.

It’s not just about passing. It’s also about achieving the best you can be.

But with that comes responsibility.

You are responsible for completing your homework, studying hard for tests, respecting and taking advice from your educators, and leading a healthy lifestyle.

In life, we seldom end up where we want to be just by accident.

We equip ourselves, we plan, and we put in the hard work. We create opportunities for ourselves, rather than waiting for them to find us.

The immediate future success of your schools is in your hands. Make the right decisions and make the community of Villiersdorp and the Western Cape proud.

We as the department are here to support you in achieving this goal, your teachers are here to support you, as well as your school governing body.

And to the parents of this school… research has shown that the greater the family and community involvement in schools, the greater the learners’ achievement and the school’s success. Your support is vital and we encourage you to play a role in your child’s education every day.

While we celebrate the past – let’s now look forward to the future – not just the future of this school, but all the schools in the Villiersdorp community.

Ek is verheug dat ons vandag hier na Villiersdorp Sekondêr, De Villiers Graaff Primêr en Kosie de Wet Primêr uitgenooi is om in hierdie viering te deel.  Ek hoop opreg dat dit die begin van ‘n selfs sterker werksverhouding tussen al u skole is.

As we say in the Western Cape Government - we can do everything Better Together - and this whole Villiersdorp school community can provide many opportunities for sharing best practice and knowledge so that all the learners of this community can achieve the results that we all want our children to achieve. 

We can start by all celebrating this anniversary together!

Thank you. 

Media Enquiries: 

Bronagh Casey
Spokesperson for Minister Grant
Cell: 072 724 1422
Tel: 021 467 2377