18 June 2018


Reducing borders between nations, classes and genders

On April 9 we had a visit from Mr John Luis, Deputy Head of Senior School at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Mr Luis had stopped in at Scotch en route to an IB Workshop in Adelaide. He was here to ask our advice regarding the implementation of the MYP programme since he had heard such good things about the programme at Scotch during his investigations into International Baccalaureate Programmes.

Mr Luis spent most of the day with us. He met first with me in my capacity as MYP coordinator, before touring the School, attending a chapel service with my tutor group and then liaising with our Director of Community and Service, Mr Cordner. After recess, he met with our Headmaster Dr O'Connell, before visiting classes and talking with students. His visit concluded with a working lunch to talk about the Personal Project with Mrs Taylor and to discuss general curriculum issues with our Dean of Curriculum, Mrs Lee.

It was a very amiable and mutually beneficial meeting. I was able to pass on a number of resources to Mr Luis and he was able to share with us how The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy operates on a relatively small budget targeting the education of girls from disadvantaged families with the aim of bringing hope and opportunity to the girls and their communities. It was really interesting to share our very different stories and for us to understand how valuable the opportunity to attend the Academy is for these girls and their families - how for them education is not a right but a privilege. The Academy was born from a conversation that Ms Winfrey had with Nelson Mandela; she asked, "What is the one thing I can do to help your country?" His response was, "Educate girls."

According to Mr Luis, Ms Winfrey is one of the primary forces driving the school's application to become an IB World School - she is really taken by the emphasis on servant leadership, on the values promoted by the Learner Profile and by the quest for equality and global harmony from which this programme was born.

I am hoping that this is just the beginning of the professional relationship forged between an Elite School for Boys in the leafy suburbs of Western Australia and an Academy for girls from disadvantaged communities in South Africa. The reduction of borders based on nationality, race, gender, social class and religion is what the MYP is ultimately about. It was wonderful for Scotch to be able to make even a tiny contribution to the growth and development of this Leadership Academy for girls.

Charlotte Cook-Casey

MYP Coordinator