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NSek: 25 Years of Success

In today’s ever-competitive world, the quality of education is becoming more and more important. The South African independent school market is especially competitive, as every school promotes its unique selling points in order to attract potential learners.

One term that gets thrown around very often is that of ‘quality education’. What is a ‘quality education’ and how do you measure this? Perhaps the best way to measure this would be by looking at your alumni and the successes that they have achieved once they have left school and moved into the ‘big world’.

The English Medium High School (starting in Grade 8) was opened in 2012, now in its third year; it has been a massive success. Despite this, a stream which is often overlooked is that of the NSek branch. The New Secondary School (NSek) was founded in 1989 and aimed to provide learners from previously disadvantaged backgrounds the chance of a private school education without the associated financial burdens. With the aid of German state government funding, the NSek stream continues to provide learners who would not normally be able to attend our school, an opportunity to shine. While learners in  our English Medium High School complete their South African IEB school-leaving certificate, learners in the NSek branch are able to choose between this and the German Abitur (depending on the strength of their German).

For those who are not aware, the NSek stream is open to learners from Grade 5 and in recent years the level of German taught during lessons has risen substantially. 2014 marks a vital time in the history of the DSJ as the NSek branch celebrates its 25 year anniversary – a quarter century of giving back to society. To commemorate the occasion, the DSJ invited the learners from the first class of 1989 to a special breakfast during our annual Open Day. The morning was a fun-filled affair as our former learners shared stories with each other while also being joined by school principal Mr Schreiner and NSek Principal Mrs von Lüdinghausen.

The DSJ invited our former learners from the first class of 1989 to answer a questionnaire. Those interviewed included: Andre Klaasen, Nadine Hoop, Renee Jones,  Yusuf Docrat, Raabia Gill, Gordon-John Ho Lin, Dr Malerato Ramela, Terence Steeneveldt, Lebogang Maseko (Kamape) and Thamsanqa Koetle. Here are some of their responses:

Further education after school?

André Klassen Diplom-Pscyhologe Univ. (Equivalent to MSc. Pyschology), University of Würzburg, Germany
Nadine Hoop Hotel Gold Diploma, Birnam Business School
Renee Jones Lufthansa International Airline Professional
BCom Accounting Degree, RAU/UJ
Yusuf Docrat BSc Eng (Mech),University of Witwatersrand
Raabia Gill Completed BCom
Dr Malerato A. Ramela Studied medicine in Cuba
Terence Steeneveldt Engineering Degree
Lebogang Maseko (Komape) BSc (Occupation Therapy), University of Witwatersrand
Masters in Public Health in Health Systems, University of Witwatersand
Enrolled for a PhD in Public Health in 2014, University of Witwatersrand
Thamsanqa Koetle BSc Mechatronics Engineering, University of Cape Town


What are you doing today?

André Klassen ‘Freelancing in scientific research, translations and consulting’
Nadine Hoop ‘Currently a housewife taking care of my four children’
Renee Jones ‘Financial Planner then Governance and Process Controller at SABMiller 2008-2013
Entrepreneur, CR Creations 2014’
Yusuf Docrat ‘Engineering Manager at Saint-Gobain Construction Products’
Raabia Gill ‘Business Analyst working on the implementation of a large-scale ERP Project.’
Gordon-John Ho Lin ‘I am employed at FNB Home Loans’
Dr Malerato A. Ramela ‘Medical Officer at Sebokeng Forensic Pathology Lab 6’
Terence Steeneveldt ‘Engineer in Project Management’
Lebogang Maseko (Komape) ‘Occupational Therapy lecturer at Wits
I have a private practice in Occupational Therapy at Wilgeheuwel Hospital’
Thamsanqa Koetle ‘Manager of the Project Management Office at Eskom’

Did your education at the DSJ help you get where you are today?

André Klassen ‘Yes, definitely! It equipped me with an outstanding work ethic which came in handy during my years at varsity. Additionally, upon completion of my Abitur, I was awarded a full bursary from the Bavarian government to study at any Bavarian university of my choice.’
Nadine Hoop ‘Yes, the DSJ shaped my course of life and instilled a work ethic in me. Obtaining a better education at the DSJ certainly helped me broaden my horizons and set my life path’
Renee Jones ‘Yes, my education opened doors for me and prepared me for the diverse companies I joined after school. Today I am one of a few South Africans who has the privilege of travelling and working abroad.’
Yusuf Docrat ‘Definitely, my ability to speak German helped me secure jobs with companies such as Daimler Chrysler and TRW in Germany’
Raabia Gill ‘Yes, after school I was on a commercial learnership with the SA German Chamber of Commerce where I found employment with a German company for over 10 years as a cost accountant’
Gordon-John Ho Lin ‘My Education at the DSJ opened doors for me. I had the opportunity to work at the best companies in South Africa and Abroad.’
Terence Steeneveldt ‘Yes, the DSJ challenged me beyond my traditional South African boundaries and opened my mind to world view, challenges and opportunities.’
Lebogang Maseko (Komape) ‘Most definitely, even to this day, when I tell people that I went to the DSJ, they sit up and listen. The DSJ is a very academic school; I learnt to be an independent thinker and to critically evaluate what I do. Being able to speak a European language helped me a lot. While it was not easy being to be part of the first non-white group of learners at an all-white school but these experiences made me a stronger person’
Thamsanqa Koetle ‘I was raised by a single mother who was unemployed. My mother wanted a good education for me but could not afford this. The DSJ awarded me a full scholarship – much to the envy of some of my friends in Soweto. My education provided me with a solid foundation for a good career and proved to be a one-way ticket out of poverty.


A message of encouragement for current NSek learners today:

André Klassen ‘Appreciate the exceptional quality of education as well as the strategies and techniques imparted to you by your teachers. These will prove not only essential in your further academic and/or professional life; they will also give you the edge to stand out above the rest. Never give up and do not be lax in taking hold of the opportunities provided to you. As a child entering the DSJ in Grade 5, I did not once imagine that one day I would get to study and work in Germany, but I did, for over a decade – SO CAN YOU!’
Nadine Hoop ‘Work hard, you have been given a unique opportunity – use it well!’
Renee Jones ‘Enjoy your school years; you will never get them back. Value the friendships you make at the DSJ and they will stand you in good stead for the future’
Yusuf Docrat ‘Work hard, appreciate the opportunities you have (our parents didn’t have them) and grab them with both hands’
Raabia Gill ‘Appreciate the fact that you have a world-class education at one the better schools in the country. I have encountered numerous instances where my educational background stood me in good stead when face with a difficult situation’
Gordon-John Ho Lin ‘Firstly I want them to enjoy the years at school because there isn’t a day that goes by that I do not wish I could go back and learn differently, I was a very lazy and playful child and could have applied myself a bit more. Take advantage of all the opportunities offered to you at the school,’
Dr Malerato A. Ramela ‘Seize the opportunity and make the most of it’
Lebogang Maseko (Komape) ‘Don’t settle for mediocrity and don’t waste any time because you’ll never get that time back’


From these findings, there cannot be any doubt that the DSJ provided these learners with a solid foundation for life. ‘Quality Education’? You be the judge…
Savo Ceprnich
April 2014
*The author would like to thank the participants for their assistance during the interview process.