ATRAIL-BLAZING Pietermaritzburg school marked its 25th year in the city this year by becoming the second inner city independent high school to receive accreditation from Umalusi (Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training). Nomaswazi High was the first school in Pietermaritzburg to offer bridging tuition to black pupils in the early 1990s and this recent accreditation demonstrates the quality of education it provides.“Umalusi accreditation assures parents and pupils that Nomaswazi High School is of a high standard, and that it is stable and sustainable,” said Sbo Mkhize, director at the school. “Accreditation is an intense process where the school’s premises, academic and extracurricular programme, finances, and other important things are thoroughly vetted.”The school was founded by Veronica Pinky Nomaswazi Mkhize at a time in South Africa’s history when previously segregated schools were beginning to admit pupils of all races. Mkhize noticed the historical development disparities that had existed between previously black and previously white schools were causing some black pupils to experience difficulties at the new multiracial schools.To help these pupils catch up to their “privileged” counterparts, she opened a Saturday school offering extra tuition in critical subjects. Nomaswazi has grown from those beginnings, constantly innovating and improving its educational offering over the years. Along with being fully registered with the KZN Department of Education, Nomaswazi High is now also the only independent inner-city school accredited by Umalusi to offer a post-matric repeater programme.“Our post-matric upgrade programme enables pupils to redo specific, chosen matric subjects without having to repeat a whole year at school,” said Mkhize. “This can be done in order to pass the subjects they failed in matric or it can be done to improve marks in specific subjects.”Almost 10 000 pupils have successfully completed Nomaswazi’s post-matric upgrade programme, said Mkhize, and Nomaswazi’s pass rate in this programme and at the high school has always been above the provincial and national average. However, even with this impressive track record and with the school’s recent Umalusi accreditation, the quest for excellence continues.“It doesn’t stop here for us,” Mkhize said. “Our culture of excellence was inculcated from the start of this school and we plan to soon expand and improve our premises, to add more facilities and constantly stay current with the times.”Nomaswazi has been a leader in its sector for a quarter of a century, and as its school motto Fiat Lux (Making Light) indicates, it continues to light the way for others. The school has just become the first school in the city to launch a virtual reality tour of the school, which makes it easy for prospective pupils and parents from anywhere to look around the school in three dimension, get enrolment forms and access all kinds of information about the school. Visit it at https://goo.gl/cinxgt using your smart phone, computer or VR headset. - Barry du Plessis.ROLE OF UMALUSIUmalusi means “herder” or “shepherd”, which in Nguni culture is the person who guards the family’s wealth. Umalusi (Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training), applies this philosophy to one of South Africa’s greatest investments – the standard of general and further education and training of its people.The Umalusi Council sets and monitors standards for general and further education and training in South Africa in accordance with the National Qualifications Framework Act No 67 of 2008 and the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance Act No 58 of 2001.It is tasked with the development and management of a sub-framework of qualifications for general and further education and training, and for attendant quality assurance.To ensure pupils are issued with certificates that are credible, Umalusi:• develops and evaluates qualifications and curricula to ensure they are of the expected standard; • moderates assessment to ensure it is fair, valid and reliable;• accredits providers of education and training, and assessment ;• conducts research to ensure educational quality; and • verifies the authenticity of certificates.