Pictured: The twelve boys from St Charles College who wrote in the English Olympiad
While the National De Beers English Olympiad may not be as competitive or well-known as the Mathematics Olympiad, it is recognised as one of the leading competitions for developing creative, academic and communicative writing. It is aimed at High School learners in the country. The competition is organised by the South African Council for English Education and sponsored by the Grahamstown Foundation and the De Beers Group.
This year twelve St Charles College boys in Grade 10 and Grade 12 wrote the examination. The results were recently released, and we can be very proud of our young writers. Joel Pillay, Dan Builu-Monji and Kyran Otto (Grade 12) all achieved Gold Awards. Joel and Dan placed 74th and 86th in the country, respectively. The Grade 10s can give themselves a pat on the back too. This is the first time in several years that St Charles College has entered the competition; hopefully, we can continue and build on this solid foundation.
– Mrs Simone Zartmann
Photo credit: Saysha Baker
About the English Olympiad:
The National English Olympiad is an English competition that draws over 8000 entries each year from around South Africa and its neighbouring countries. The competition is organized jointly by the Grahamstown Foundation and the South African Council for English Education.
The primary objectives of the De Beers English Olympiad are:
- To enrich learners through the study of English; encouraging them to explore it beyond the scope of the school syllabus;
- To encourage critical thinking and creative writing while learners enjoy the challenges of preparing for and writing the examination;
- To promote the English language and stimulate the study of English amongst first and second English Language speakers, and to proactively increase the participation of candidates in previously disadvantaged schools;
- To provide access to these benefits for motivated learners unable to pay the entry fee, through the provision of bursaries.
The syllabus and examination questions offer stimulation not found within the school syllabus. They call for acute critical ability and sharp writing skills, but they also seek to draw out creative thinking and writing – aptitudes so central to our humanness. Many learners get too little opportunity for such self-expression in the normal school routine, and are searching for a stimulus to this creativity. The syllabus and examination also cause learners to explore the relevance of literature to themselves and the world around them. Those candidates who are prepared to take a risk and answer the more challenging questions in an unusual and creative way, are usually the candidates who excel in the exam. The value of the Olympiad extends far beyond the actual writing of the examination. The De Beers English Olympiad is distinctive in that, unlike other Olympiads, it requires learners to study a prescribed text. This sets in motion a valuable learning process. English teachers set up study groups to examine the text and this leads to the exploration of a whole range of related ideas and theories. Each year a new anthology and theme is compiled by SACEE, and the examination is based on this theme and anthology.
The competition is open to all learners in Grade 9, 10, 11 and 12 in the year that the exam is written. Entries are only accepted through schools. As the examination is based on an open-book system, every candidate receives an anthology and a study guide, included in the entry fee. For more information about the theme, entry fees, etc, please download the Call for Entries and Entry Form from the Home page of this website, or contact the Olympiad Officer who will email, fax or post these to you.