“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
When former president and global icon Nelson Mandela mentioned to the CEO of Siemens that he wished to see a high school built in his hometown, Mvezo in the Eastern Cape, he unwittingly initiated the fulfilment of that dream.
In 2014, the Mandela School of Science and Technology opens its doors to grade 8-10 learners and in 2015, it will accept grades 11-12. The 25 classrooms will accommodate 700 students. This has been made possible with visionary corporate social responsibility from Siemens. Students from 11 primary schools in Mvezo and nine from surrounding communities will have the opportunity to attend a high school close to home. In the impoverished Eastern Cape, the school is not just a dream fulfilled but also a landmark legacy and a beacon of hope.
The design of the building and the building materials embody the importance of education and will serve as an educational tool.
Renewable energy is incorporated into the energy mix, teaching learners that sustainability is within reach, even for those living in rural areas. There are 97 PV panels with room for additions in future and, coupled with three wind turbines, the renewable system will provide 42 MWh/annum. The bi-directional electricity allows the school to supplement its energy needs and also export excess energy generated.
The school was built to match its environment but also belongs to the site in a deeper sense; the local community provided the labour and materials were sourced within a 400 km radius of the site. The students and community will be trained to maintain the building – that is true empowerment.
The school has a powerful motto – Education is freedom – and it seems the team at Siemens is giving the community the opportunity to do the long walk.