Tiger Kloof Educational Institution - "Creating new paths in learning, doing and serving”
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Tiger Kloof Educational Institution, just outside Vryburg in the North West province of South Africa, was opened in 1904 by the London Missionary Society and educated the Batswana people for 50 years, including the first two presidents of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama and Sir Quett Masire. In 1966, the majority of cabinet members of the newly independent Botswana were educated at Tiger Kloof. Dr. Ruth Mompati, Nelson Mandela’s secretary and leader of the ANC women in exile, was also a student here and was a member of the Board until her death. Bishop Desmond Tutu’s mom also attended school at Tiger Kloof. In the earlier years, prior to its closure, the Institution comprised nine different schools and the students themselves built the wonderful buildings from stone quarried from Tiger Kloof’s own land.
In 1953 the South African government passed the Bantu Education Act, which made it illegal to teach academic subjects to black children. The missionaries withdrew in 1955 and the school limped on until 1962 when it was closed down and the land sold off to a white farmer. The area was declared ‘whites only’ and the farmer was given orders by the South African president, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd, to bulldoze the buildings. Fortunately the instruction was not carried out.The buildings survived and still stand proudly alongside Cecil Rhodes’ Cape to Cairo railway, on the road to Kimberley, witnesses of an extraordinary story of hope and reconciliation.
In 1990, following the release of Nelson Mandela, Old Tigers and local businessmen got together to plan the reopening of the school. The old buildings, abandoned for more than thirty years, were renovated and restored and the high school reopened in 1995. It was rededicated in a ceremony lead by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whose mother had been a student at the school.
The combined school now has more than 800 learners. The primary school was started in 2004 and is housed in what was once the girls’ school in the pre-closure years. The high school numbers range from 420 to 430 with space for 180 boarders.
The environment is beautiful. Tiger Kloof sits on 1200 hectares of land. The farm and the estate are used to provide an educational experience for the students and to create an appreciation of their environment, a far cry from the grim places where many of them live. Many of our children have experienced physical abuse, violence, drugs and poverty in the Vryburg area. Tiger Kloof is a haven for them and apart from achieving increasingly good exam results, which can be a passport out of poverty, it instils in them values of service and discipline, rooted in the same Christian faith brought by the missionaries more than a century ago.
It is easy to be cynical about South Africa’s future and to criticize its failing education system, but that cynicism will be blown away by a visit to Tiger Kloof. Our learners are remarkable, considering the many challenges that large numbers of the learners have had to overcome. Many are orphans, many are brought up by extended family, many experience bereavement each year, but at Tiger Kloof there is a sense of purpose and direction and an extraordinary heart for serving the disadvantaged of their own communities, even among those who themselves have very little.
There aren’t too many good news stories in South African education. This is one of them. Here is a place where you find holistic and wholesome education in the true sense of the word. The rural setting of Tiger Kloof belies its historical significance and its innovative educational approach.
You will find the history of Tiger Kloof on our institution and school website: www.tigerkloof.org
Tiger Kloof is a government school (Department of Basic Education) on private property. Boarding facilities are currently available for high school students and some primary school students in 2023.
Tiger Kloof is registered with the South African Revenue Services and the Department of Social Development as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) / Non-Profit Company as defined in section 1 of the South African Companies Act. Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) compliant.
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