This year, pupils who consider that being an active and caring member of society is as important as their studies, and who have strived to make a difference in their communities, will have a chance to win a scholarship to Sacred Heart College in Observatory, Johannesburg.
“We are looking for young people who are actively involved in their communities and social justice causes,” explains Heather Blanckensee, the principal of the college’s high school. Her institute has launched the first South African High School Active Citizenship Scholarship Fund.
South Africa is rife with daily social challenges and the youth have a major role to play in addressing these issues. “We have put the emphasis on taking real care with each other as part of our school culture for a long time,” says Blanckensee, “and we want to find new and meaningful ways to reinforce that – the scholarship is just that.”
Pupils who are currently in grades seven, eight and nine who are going through to grades eight, nine and 10, are urged to apply for the scholarship, which will cover all tuition fees at Sacred Heart.
Founded in 1889, three years after the beginning of the Witwatersrand gold rush, Sacred Heart has come to be known for its excellent academic standards in the sciences and humanities, as well as its culture of caring for the individuals who attend and work at the school. These are the values that the staff hope to impart to all their pupils.
About the scholarship, Blanckensee says: “Shortlisted candidates will have to write our normal mathematics and English entrance examinations, but the primary criteria for this particular scholarship is demonstrable evidence of the applicant’s commitment to social good, neighbourliness, volunteer work and similar active citizenry.”
The head of the college, Collin Northmore, says the scholarship intends to identify young individuals who are going above and beyond the call of duty to address the many complicated issues that face South Africa as a whole.
“Citizens who do more than talk about the difficulties faced by many people in this country are, we believe, the right kind of potential leaders for South Africa,” says Northmore. “Our college does not just pay lip service to the idea of active citizenship and the scholarship enables us to show our own commitment in a way that can really make a difference – by offering an outstanding high school education to youngsters who might never otherwise get that.
“The whole idea is to encourage our existing and potential new learners to understand that an education at Sacred Heart does not begin and end with strong academics, but is also a serious commitment to our society.”
A big part of its educational philosophy is centred on the belief that “to teach children, you must first love them, and love them all equally” – the words of St Marcellin Champagnat, upon whose values the school was founded.
Pupils and their parents and guardians who feel that their children meet the criteria for the scholarship are urged to visit the school’s website for more information as well as the downloadable application form. Candidates can also contact the school via email or telephone on 011 648 1030 / 011 487 9000.
Applications close on Monday, 30 September and applicants must be available on Saturday, 5 October to present themselves and evidence of their active citizenship in any form including, but not limited to, media reports, awards, certificates and photographs. For information, interviews and visual reference, contact Naomi Meyer on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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