Thu 19 Mar 2020 | 05:52

Book Review: 20 South African Schools – A Pictorial History

Book Review: 20 South African Schools – A Pictorial History
Thu 19 Mar 2020 | 05:52
Book Review: 20 South African Schools – A Pictorial History

It is a wonderful book for those interested in schools, their histories, their people and their contribution to South African society.


It has over 500 pictures, historical and modern, views of each school and pictures of notables, ancient and modern. There is text – the history of the foundation and development of each school, anecdotes and memories. The text for each school is, by and large, provided by the school itself.

The schools chosen are all founded before 1890. They are – in the order in which they appear in the book, which is by age – SACS, Wynberg Boys’ High, Bishops, Grey College of Bloemfontein, St Andrew’s College of Grahamstown, Paarl Boys’ High, Grey High School of Port Elizabeth, Paarl Gimnasium, Queen’s College, Rhenish of Stellenbosch, Dale College of King William’s Town, Maritzburg College, Durban High School, Paul Roos Gymnasium of Stellenbosch, St Cyprian’s of Cape Town, Springfield Convent of Wynberg, Hilton College of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, Selborne College of East London and St Mary’s of Johannesburg.

Four of the schools are girls’ schools – Rhenish, St Cyprian’s, Springfield and St Mary’s. One is a coed school – Paarl Gim. The others are boys’ schools.

Johannesburg did not get going till late in the 19th century and so the only Johannesburg school is St Mary’s, Waverley, an Anglican foundation in 1888. In fact all the girls’ schools were religious foundations- Rhenish by the Rhenish missionaries from Germany, St Cyprian’s by the Anglican Church and Catholic Springfield, founded by Dominican sisters. St. Mary’s, incidentally, is the oldest school in Johannesburg.

The introduction regrets that the early founding date excludes great schools like Michaelhouse (1896), Jeppe (1890), Rondebosch (1897), St John’s (1898), Pretoria Boys High (1901), KES (1902) and Glenwood (1910).

That there was a need to keep the number of schools down to 20 is obvious from the generous space given each school. The history of each school is there, from the beginning to the present day – not just in the buildings but mostly the people, individuals and groups such as sporting teams, the many different spheres of school life and staff members.


At the end there is an index by school, which makes it easy to find people.

It is a book of great delight and takes self-control to stop dipping into it and it is not easy to put down. It is available in the major South African book stores.

Title: 20 South African Schools
Production: Don Nelson & Lucinda Fransman
Published by Don Nelson Publishers
232 pages
Large format
Soft cover
Illustrated throughout in black and white
ISBN 978-1-86806-413-7

PV: 625