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Calvin College

A ‘platinum’ school in Burgersfort – rare and precious like the metal that underpins the town’s existence.

By Partson Ngwarai with Pat Brink

Situated on the outskirts of Burgersfort, Calvin College, now with classes from Grade 0 to 12, was founded by Mike Roetz in response to the community’s need for a school that offered academic excellence as its core function.

The fact that it has fulfilled that prerequisite was reflected in the 2011 Matric results: 93% degree course passes, the top student in the Tubatse Circuit, and top learners in Sepedi home language, Afrikaans and English additional languages, mathematics, life sciences, business studies, economics, accounting and computer application technology. Evidence that these were not just exceptional students who would have achieved at any school is the equally impressive list of eight Calvin College educators who were recognised as producing the top pass rate in the circuit. To determine the best educator in the Circuit, both the percentage pass rate and the quality of the passes in the subject are considered.

How has this school, serving pupils from middle-income earning families, i.e. parents employed by the local mines, the government or small business owners, achieved such standards of excellence? The answer could lie in the fact that the school achieves such an equitable balance between democracy and discipline.

Staff: democratic discipline

The oxymoron, or apparent contradiction, of ‘democratic discipline’ is first evident amongst the teaching staff. They like to be known as educators rather than teachers as they believe that in the modern classroom they do not have the monopoly of knowledge. They promote a democratic, learner-centred approach using the cross pollination of learners’ diverse experiences to stimulate creativity and promote high cognitive thinking.

These are highly committed educators who put the learners’ education above remuneration and other benefits. Extra classes are offered on Saturday mornings and during holidays to enrich the curriculum and provide remedial lessons. These academic offerings are complemented by the teachers’ organisation of educational field trips, leadership training, university open days, career exhibitions, motivational speakers, and a full programme of extra-curricular cultural and sporting activities.

Management: disciplined democracy

The empathy that the educators display towards the learners is matched by the motivation that they receive from the management, whose style can also be described by the seeming paradox: ‘disciplined democracy’. Every day, during the first 20 minutes, each educator is given the opportunity to contribute anything that he or she believes can improve school functionality, and, ultimately, results. During monthly staff meetings, a full afternoon is devoted to discussion of school matters. Members of staff thus feel empowered by their contribution towards decisions taken by management. In addition, personal milestones are acknowledged, and concern is shown about their personal challenges. Mr Same Mabokwane, an accounting educator, expresses his appreciation: “It is a good or positive thing as the school shows that, despite being colleagues, we are also one big family where each family member’s birthday is recognised and celebrated”. This personal touch extends into the community of parents amongst whom the teachers live.

Learners: democracy to ensure discipline

“What are the qualities that you need in your prefects for 2012? Hard-working, committed, models of the Calvin College ethos, people who know how to bring enjoyment as well as control into every day school life.” This is typical of the speeches delivered by potential prefects before the college votes for their new leaders. The skills learnt in campaigning, preparing speeches, and then fulfilling the promises made to their peers are invaluable when the learners hit the bright lights of university or begin their professional careers as engineers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, radiographers, amongst other demanding vocations.

The prefects supervise classes when teachers have to be absent, act as the eyes and ears of staff, represent the views of the learners, enforce the dress code, give demerits where deserved, and raise money for the Matric Farewell. As a result, there is a highly disciplined environment that is conducive to learning and achieving success.

The school provides effective support to those students who experience barriers to learning including extra tuition as mentioned above. In 2011, only one Grade 11 failed to be promoted to Matric. They are carefully advised to select the subjects that match their competencies. Thus the policy of inclusivity is justified.

Christian influence: guidance and service

JC4CC (Jesus Christ for Calvin College) plays a vital role in serving the school and community. Members open the school day with a scripture reading and prayer over the intercom. They collect and distribute food and clothing to underprivileged children in the community. In turn, the learners are served by two full time Youth Coaches, employed by KONIN, who provide counselling for those with social and emotional problems.

Into the future:

Calvin College’s internal evaluation in 2010 through IQAA identified some areas for particular attention, and these have been addressed: sports facilities were upgraded to enable more fixtures against other schools and provincial trialists; educators created open door policies for learners who face academic challenges; bullying on buses was curbed by bus prefects on every route; educators planned a more manageable homework load; computers were made available for research as well as IT literacy.

As a category five school we have established ourselves as the independent community school of Burgersfort. The challenge in the future for us will be to continue offering this valued educational service at an affordable price without compromising on academic standards.

Category: spring 2017

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Comments (15)

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  1. anomymous says:

    sounds like a brilliant school that not only enriches students with top-of-the-range knowledge but also cares about bringing up future leaders.

  2. kayMo Mahlodi B says:

    That is a clear truth about Calvin. Thanks to papa Ngwarai and others…

  3. Charlotte says:

    this is by far the best school in Burgersfort!

  4. Charlotte says:

    the best school in burgersfort,talking from experience! Bachelors pass 🙂

  5. Sylviah Mphogo Lekau says:

    Calvin is the best school,we are what we are because of it.

    Keep on doind the best job.

  6. phina says:

    I have heard about excellent education offered by education at Calvin college i want to know about registration dates for 2016

  7. ouma says:

    can I please have the school account to pay for my child school fees.

  8. alice ratholo says:


    I would like to enrol my daughter next year 2017. she will be doing grade 7. I want information with regard to application process.

    Alice Ratholo

  9. Makofane promise says:

    Hi I heard about outstanding education at Calvin; So I would Luke to enrol my nephew next year 2017 in grade 9.I would like to find more about the application processes and fees.Looking forward to hear from you.
    Regards :
    Miss L.Promise Makofane

  10. Partson Ngwarai says:

    Calvin College details;

    The telephone number for Calvin is 013 231 7643
    Application forms are collected from the office. The potential pupils write a selection interview test.

    Unfortunately banking details are only given to parents after their children secure a place.

  11. Lefihlile Kgoete says:

    Calvin College really produces hardworking, competent and outstanding learners.

    They specialise in creating smart and independent learners capable of becoming tomorrow’s learners. As a former learner,I am proud to be a product of Calvin College ?.


  12. Makofane Beauty says:

    My name is Beauty, former student at Calvin College. I value the quality of education offered by this school and I would like to make an application for my daughter for the academic year 2019. I want to find out when the applications are open so I can apply on time. Please send me information needed for application.

  13. granny morema says:


    I would like to enrol my daughter next year 2019. she will be doing grade 1. I would kindly like to request information regarding to application process.

    Thank you


  14. Alfred says:

    Hi do you have space for grade R and grade 1 ?

  15. Zandile says:

    Hi I’m looking for a space for my daughter to start this year 2019 she is doing grade 5

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