The model for our approach to educational excellence -- and for the sort of global relationship that helps make it possible -- is the Holy Cross School in Grahamstown, South Africa.  Completed in 2011, the school is one of the fruits of an intercontinental partnership between two chapters of the Order of the Holy Cross, an Anglican Benedictine order for men founded in 1884 by Father James Otis Sargent Huntington, who gave us the quote "Love must act as light must shine forth and fire must burn."  One half of this partnership of monastic communities is based at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York, while the other is based at Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery in Grahamstown.   

Holy Cross School, a fully sustainable primary educational institution for student in grades R-3 (K through 3 in American terms) emphasizes holistic education according to the highest international standards. It serves an overwhelming disadvantaged community: nearly all of its 60 students come from households making less than the national living wage, and nearly one-in-five come from households with at least one deceased parent.  Through its utilization of a world-class educational model and its rooting in communities of love, however, it consistently performs to standards on par with, or even exceeding, schools in the developed world

Here are some basic facts about Holy Cross that demonstrate what we’re talking about:

STUDENT-TO-TEACHER RADIO

The student-to-teacher rater at Holy Cross is 14-1. This bests the national South African rate of 32-1 by more than twofold, and contributes immensely to the individual attention available to all students, and to their academic achievement particularly in complex subjects such as mathematics and the sciences.

GENDER EQUITY

The South African constitution recognizes the right to education for all citizens, and South Africa has endorsed international commitments to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education.   Holy Cross’s female-to-male ratio among students is 26-24, having slightly surpassed the global standard of providing educational opportunity for girls at the same rate as for boys.

ABSENTEEISM RATE

Holy Cross’s rate of absenteeism is just 2.24%, more than four times better than South Africa’s national rate of 10%, and also substantially better than the chronic-absenteeism rate in the United States.

WHAT ABOUT TEXT BOOKS?

Throughout the world, schools in poorer countries and regions struggle to provide text books to all students.  In South Africa, for example, between 25-30% of primary students do not have, or must share, textbooks.  At Holy Cross, textbook access in through the second grade is 100%, and in the third grade is more than 95%.

HOW WELL ARE TEACHERS COMPENSATED?

The quality of teacher pay, of course, is key to the quality of education.  Holy Cross’s teachers are compensated at a rate comparable to government employees in South Africa: 240,000 Rand per year (approximately $18,500). The principal of the school, by choice, chooses to draw a salary less than the average for her position at other schools.

To visit the Holy Cross School's website, click here.