World’s best school prizes top 10 shortlist
World’s best school prizes top 10 shortlist. Two inspirational South African schools have been named in the Top 10 shortlists for the new $250,000 World’s Best School Prizes, launched this year by T4 Education in partnership with Templeton World Charity Foundation, Accenture and American Express.
Pinelands North Primary School in Cape Town, South Africa, and West End Primary in Mitchells Plain, South Africa, 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.
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.
“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.”
About the schools:
Pinelands North Primary School in Cape Town, South Africa, 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 – shorts and t-shirts, which are designed to be less traditional and more comfortable. The school has brought in gender neutral bathrooms and everyone, including teachers, is addressed by their first name. 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 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, South Africa, is situated in the heart of the Cape Flats in the Western Cape. This area is renowned for the challenging circumstances of the community due to poverty, unemployment, gangsterism and substance abuse. Having opened its doors in 1981, West End Primary 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 incarcerated on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela. Most of its students come from families that were directly impacted by the policies imposed during Apartheid and to this day the legacy of Apartheid has continued to affect the community that the school is serving.”
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 extra-curricular and extra mural activities. The past years, the school has produced a number of learners who have excelled in sport (receiving provincial and national colours) and academic achievements, become published authors and gained leadership skills. Over time, the bonds created helped improve learners’ attitudes towards themselves and their studies, allowing them to build their self-confidence.
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. After a public advisory vote, the winner of each Prize will be chosen based on rigorous criteria by a Judging Academy comprising distinguished leaders all across the globe including academics, educators, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, government, civil society, and the private sector. The winners will be announced in October 2022 at World Education Week. A prize of US$250,000 will be equally shared among the winners of the five Prizes, with each receiving an award of US$50,000.
All 50 shortlisted schools across the five Prizes will share their best practices through toolkits 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.