The History of Livingstone High

(1926 - 2006)

As we look back upon the road by, which we arrived at what we are today, we will learn from the example of those who went before us how we can give real meaning to our 80th Anniversary celebration.

WHY LIVINGSTONE WAS STARTED

Eighty years ago in Cape Town there was no high school for children of colour, except Trafalgar High School. There was no secondary school in Claremont. The State did not provide primary or secondary schooling for persons of colour. It was left to the churches and mosques to see to the schooling of children. In the Claremont- Lansdowne - Newlands area no fewer than 13 mission schools battled to provide education up to Standard Four, some in brick buildings, others in iron shacks, where children paid a tickey-a-week (two-and-a-half cents) to learn to read, write and reckon! What, then, was to happen to those who passed Standard 4?

More than 80 years ago a band of men and women in the Teachers' League of South Africa (TLSA) and the African Peoples' Organisation (the APO) began a campaign to start a secondary school in Claremont. Livingstone was the outcome of their efforts. Messrs. Sam Wentzel, Stephen Reagon, Philip Poole, D.E. Wessels, Arnold Carlier, Hadji Galant, Mac van Dieman and Dr. A.E. Abdurahman were among the founders of our school. It is vital to note that it was the determined efforts of parents themselves that drove the State to provide the school.

HOW LIVINGSTONE WAS STARTED

And so on February 26, 1926, Livingstone opened its doors to the pupils lucky enough to have passed through the mission primary schools. The school started at Standard 5, naturally, and it wasn't until 1941, when Rosmead Central Primary School was opened, that Livingstone took on the structure of the usual high school. Its Standard 5 classes moved with their teachers to Rosmead Central.

Mr E.C. Roberts became the first principal in 1926. Under his leadership and with the mighty efforts of his staff and parents the school grew by leaps and bounds. It had started off in what had been a dairy farm. The double storey formed one part of the school. Three stables were renovated to house three Standard 5 classes. They are still known as "The Stables" to this day! The Woodwork Room, Science Lab and Domestic Science Room (Rooms 3, 4 and 5 today) were added some years later. After ten years huge tents were set up to provide rooms for senior pupils while the west and north wings were added. During the war years, the school hired a loft above a plumber's store in Livingstone Road opposite the school to house pupils. That became known as "The bats' cave", and still the school grew. During Miss Carlier's reign as the principal, the school hired "Clareinch", a fine building that stood where the police station is now, to house three Standard 6 classes until the east wing of the school and the new Woodwork Room, Art Room and Home Economics Room were added.

The prefabricated buildings were added in later years. Thus, from the stables of 1926 to what we see today there is a saga of a quite unreal battle to provide an absolutely vital and necessary facility for the growth and development of boys and girls who desperately needed the education they got even under those circumstances. That is just one reason to speak of “hard-won" progress and success" during the past 70 years. Mr E.C. Roberts boldly created a curriculum to span language, science, mathematics, art, music, drama and physical education. In the early years Agricultural Science was included in these studies. The school became the target of officialdom and the security third police. The school was bolstered by a powerful Parent- Teacher Association linked to the Peninsula Council of PTAs. The next ten years the authorities refused to appoint a permanent principal of the parents' choice.

1953 – 1987: STATE VERSUS LIVINGSTONE

From 1953 – 1955, Mr R.O. Dudley acted in a temporary capacity, but the brunt of the ten year war against the school was borne by Miss Ray Carlier who was at the helm for more than seven years until her retirement (1955 – 1962). She was the very first women to head a co-ed high school in the country. After her retirement the State prepared to transfer the control of the school, like all other similar schools, to the "Coloured Affairs" Department in 1964. In 1963, the arrest, detention and jailing of Dr Neville Alexander and three other members of staff was followed by the forced exile of Mr Alie Fataar in 1964. The loss of these staff members was a hard blow. But in their place the school was able to get graduate-ex-pupils who did the school proud. In 1964 the C.A.D. ordered out of the school all pupils classified as “African". Their fellow pupils rallied to their support, demonstrating their solidarity with strictly organised stay-aways, while the staff organised ways and means to offset the worst of the diktat.

In circumstance like these the prior interest of the scholars got added attention from the teachers. The period from 1964 to 1967 was devoted to creating at the school an enriched programme of interest inside the classroom and in the broader corporate life of the school.

All aspects of the school's activities were drawn closely into the programme. Physical Education, Sport, Art and Music were alloyed with the more formal learning subjects to grow the image of a centre of directed education of the "whole personality". The library and its reading lists, a new group of school societies, the generous use of films, the development of poetry readings and stage work were all capped by the summing up of the ideals and aims of the school in its School Creed as well as the popularisation of the School Song in 1967. The "war" however had not ended. In 1967, one of the most creative teachers on the staff, Mr Victor Wessels was summarily transferred to Upington.

Under the Group Areas Act all the primary mission schools and one state school (Stephen Reagon Primary) were forced to close, Rosmead School was the only one left to carry on. The State had hoped that Livingstone would be drained of its pupils in this way, so making it easier to close the school down. The Claremont Area had been designated a "white group area". Segregated secondary schools had rapidly been built in group areas and extended locations to draw pupils away from urban areas. But the loyal support of the parents both for their own "alma mater" and the uncompromising dedication of the school to the defence of non-racial quality education - in the face of all manner of difficulties -scuppered the rulers' plans.

Yet the anti-educational blows still rained down upon the school from "official" quarters. In 1977 the school was instructed to do away with all teachers classified "white". Later, the same officials sought NOT to appoint 13 out of 14 teachers nominated by the School Committee for vital posts; it chose to appoint its own nominees, most of whom were not qualified for the work they were supposed to do. The school forced the authorities to abandon their decision and to accept the parents' recommendations.

THE CHALLENGES OF THE 80’S AND 90’S

Indeed the period (the seventies and eighties) was a turbulent one during which the government at the time was shaken to its very foundations by revolts from various quarters. Amid the disruption of schools. This school had to adopt a course of action (unpopular as it may have been at the time) that would give pupils, staff and parents abundant opportunities to analyse the socio-political situation, take well thought out action and at the same time pupils could not neglect the very necessary academic work. It was under the leadership of Mr Evans (1970 – 1987) together with all constituents of the school community, that this school was steered through this period.

After the sudden demise of Mr Evans in 1987, Mr Reginald Abrahams continued to pursue the mission of the school with fresh vigour. The dawn of the nineties brought with it a fresh set of uncertainties and challenges which continue to have repercussions in the schools. On 31 July 1993, Mr Abrahams retired after having served the school with much credit.

Mr Simon Banda (1993 – 1996) continued the work started by his predecessors. Under his leadership, the school opened its first computer laboratory (in the old Room 22 next to the library). It also signalled the initiation of the Livingstone Educational Aid Foundation (LEAF), an organisation that took over the fund-raising activities and played a valuable role in providing resources for the school. Also, during Mr Banda’s principalship, work began on a double-storey building in line with the tennis court and prefabs. This structure added four classrooms and a laboratory, as well as two ablution blocks to the school.

The addition was officially opened by Mr R. O Dudley in 1997 after Mrs Rhoda Hendricks (1996 – 2003) took over the principalship from Mr Banda, who resigned in December 1996. Mrs Hendricks, laid great store in ensuring that the educational standards at Livingstone were maintained. It is mainly due to her determined efforts that Livingstone finally was granted permission for a school hall to be built. Mrs Hendricks retired in February 2003, having delivered valuable service to the school during her tenure there. The hall, situated on the field closest to the Leraar Road gate, was officially opened by Mrs Hendricks early in 2003 During her term as principal, Mrs Hendricks and the staff had to meet the challenge of adapting to Outcomes Based Education whilst still meeting the educational standards which founding and past staff had fought so hard to maintain.

CONCLUSION

Quite clearly, the progress of the school over Eighty years and the success that our pupils. teachers and parents in fulfilling many, if not all their hopes and aspirations, have been achieved over very rocky terrain. In those first days the founders had to take the first steps to get any secondary at all for the dispossessed. The State's studied sabotaging of education at every stage of success achieved by the school and its pupils stands in stark contrast to the determined efforts of Livingstonians themselves to defend their education.

The great contribution made by so many to success in circumstances where school buildings and equipment were got together in bits and pieces; also stands in stark contrast to the destruction of the feeder mission schools (which stood in for children when the State ignored their needs) in the hope that Livingstone would waste away. The response of our pupils down all these years and their success in every walk of life has been the ultimate reply to those who sought to corrupt and debase education.

Despite the fact that we have entered a new political and social era that is more democratic, it remains our duty to resist any attempts to steer us away from our mission and goals. Our school, born out a need to serve a community bereft of educational possibilities, remains vital to the academic wellbeing of many for whom education is the key to a successful life. Throughout its history, Livingstone High has confounded its critics and others by producing quality education and very notable results. This it has done despite a lack of resources and space, and the attacks launched against it by the state. In so doing, the school has always lived up to its motto: “Nulla Vestigia Vertrorsum” – No Step Back !

To advance, remains our goal.