The delegation from the Deutsche Internationale Schule Johannesburg (German School) who traveled to Berlin, Germany to receive the award for the best international school outside of Germany.
JOHANNESBURG - A recent international awards ceremony has highlighted Johannesburg&39;s place on the global map for the right reasons.
The German School in Parktown - Deutsche Internationale Schule Johannesburg (DSJ) - won first prize at the International German School Awards (‘Deutscher Schulpreis’) earlier this month.
The school, which boasts pupils from 32 different religious denominations, and 36 nationalities, was up against one other finalist, the Peruvian-German School in Lima.
The DSJ has said in a statement that &39;Der Deutsche Schulpreis&39; is considered the most important ‘stamp of approval’ for all German schools.
The prestigious award is supported by the Robert-Bosch Foundation, the Heidehof Foundation, Stern Magazine and the ARD (German National TV).
In Germany, it is often referred to as the ‘Oscars of schools awards’.
A trophy and cash prize of EUR 25,000 was handed over to a small delegation of pupils and teachers, which included headmaster Thomas Bachmeier, by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at a ceremony in Berlin. The announcement was made live on German TV.
The German schools abroad which entered the running were subjected to close examination during multiple rounds by a panel of educational experts.
The award is given to schools for outstanding educational practices.
According to a press release by the Germany Embassy in Pretoria, "the winning school is selected based on academic excellence and the quality of education. It is also evaluated on its diversity, cooperation with outside partners, social responsibility and its adoption of new and innovative approaches in further developing the school."
Clearly, the German School in Joburg met all these criteria.
Being awarded the best German school abroad prize "recognises the all-round achievements of the DSJ and the immense contribution of the whole school community," headmaster Bachmeier said.
In 1886, the Gold Rush hit Johannesburg. Just two years later, German businessmen and miners decided on a need for the school but initial plans were stalled by a severe economic crisis.
Pastor Hermann Kuschke then took the initiative and started the school with just one pupil in 1890. Within a year, the school had twenty pupils, and in 1897 the building in Hillbrow was constructed, with 200 pupils now registered.
The school closed down during World War I and reopened in 1922.
After World War II, the school took off with a rapid influx of pupil registrations to the point that it needed to move premises, which it did in 1969, to its present location in Parktown.
Five years after this move, the school again had too many pupils for its current size, and it needed an extension.
German and international examinations are offered at the school, such as the South African National Senior Certificate, the German International Arbitur and a German Language Diploma.
In the primary school, pupils from non-German backgrounds receive additional tuition in the foreign language through the New Primary School (NPS) programme. The New Secondary School (NSek) programme starts from Grade 5. Pupils are required to pass entrance examinations as well as undergo an aptitude test before being accepted into this stream.
For a third additional language, the DSJ offers Afrikaans, French or Zulu from Grade 6 onwards.
The English Medium High School was introduced in 2012 allowing non-German speaking pupils to enter the school from Grade 8, and learn German as a second foreign language.
As an international school, it also fosters intercultural skills amongst its learners.
Locally, it partners Soweto school, Thabasile and includes a special Saturday School for talented learners in Grades 3 and 4 – the best of which are offered a place at the DSJ in Grade 5 of the New Secondary School (NSek) programme.
The NSek has been in existence since 1989, with the support of the German government and gives learners that would not usually be able to afford a private school education, the opportunity to do so.
Last year, 2015 was an historic year for the school as it celebrated its 125th anniversary, making it not much younger than the City of Gold itself, and the oldest co-educational school in Johannesburg.
All in all, the school caters for children from age 1 to Matric, and asserts that you&39;d be hard pressed to find another institution locally where you can drop off a 12-month-old child and collect him 17 years later, well educated, biligual (or more) and with a global university entrance.
As the school itself says, receiving the ‘Excellent German School Abroad’ quality seal from the German Federal President verifies that the DSJ is on the right track.