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Waterford Kamhlaba

Waterford Kamhlaba United World College
UWC makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.
Mbabane, Swaziland
Type International Baccalaureate school, IGCSE, private
Established 1963
Number of students 600
Affiliation United World College
Information +268 4220866/7/8

Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa (UWCSA) is one of thirteen international UWC schools and colleges and is located in Mbabane, Swaziland. UWC schools, colleges and programmes deliver a challenging and transformative educational experience to a diverse cross section of students, inspiring them to create a more peaceful and sustainable future.

UWC originated in the ideas of the educationalist Kurt Hahn in the 1950s and the first UWC, Atlantic College, opened in Wales in 1962. Waterford Kamhlaba was established one year later by Michael Stern, in 1963. The school's mission was similar to the philosophy of the international movement, and Waterford became the fourth United World College in 1981.


  • History 1
    • A New Multi-Racial School 1.1
    • Rising Political Importance 1.2
    • United World College 1.3
  • Campus & Student Life 2
    • Campus 2.1
    • Student Life 2.2
      • Housing System & Intramural Activities 2.2.1
      • Extracurricular Activities 2.2.2
      • Community Service 2.2.3
  • Academics 3
    • Forms 1-3 3.1
    • Forms 4-5 (IGCSE) 3.2
    • International Baccalaureate 3.3
  • Notable alumni 4
    • 1963 to 1973 4.1
    • 1974 to 1983 4.2
    • 1984 to 2001 4.3
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


A New Multi-Racial School

Waterford was founded by a small number of teachers, led by the young British teacher Michael Stern, as a multi-racial school in opposition to South Africa's apartheid policies. Stern had previously been head of a school in Johannesburg, but the educational policies of the apartheid government in South Africa drove him from the country to Swaziland where he was determined to create a new school in which students of all races could study together and cooperate in community service.

After years of courage and dedication, the school was founded in 1963. Land on a hillside near Mbabane had been obtained through a grant from the King of Swaziland, and the main buildings were designed by Portuguese/Mozambiquean architect Amâncio d'Alpoim Miranda Guedes.

Rising Political Importance

Stern and his school became a southern African legend. Nelson Mandela, still in prison, sent his daughters there. Seretse Khama, the first president of Botswana, sent his son Ian, who is now the fourth president; the Tutu and Sisulu families also sent their children. Another Waterford boy, Fernando Honwana, became a trusted assistant to Samora Machel of Mozambique, helping him to act as go-between in negotiations between Margaret Thatcher’s administration and the emerging African government in Rhodesia, later Zimbabwe.

The school — Stern’s idea and his creation — became his life’s work; its successful balance of boys (and later girls) of all races, tribes and religions, the fulfilment of his dream. In a speech in November 1995, presenting him with a Founder’s Medal, Nelson Mandela said of time spent at Waterford that he “demonstrated in the worst days of apartheid, that even those who were free to enjoy the privileges of the system could ally themselves with the oppressed in the interest of non-racialism in Southern Africa”.

United World College

Waterford was originally established just one year after the first school, Atlantic College, making it the second oldest college by date of founding. Today, there are thirteen United World Colleges in the UK, Singapore, Canada, Swaziland, the USA, Italy,[1]Hong Kong, Norway, India, Costa Rica, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Netherlands.

As a UWC, Waterford offers the IB programme in its upper school. The entire college, including forms 1-5, is considered part of the UWC, although many other Colleges just offer the IB programme.

Campus & Student Life


Waterford Kamhlaba is situated on a mountain ledge, approximately 15 minutes from the city centre of Mbabane. The sporting facilities on campus include a sports hall and gym, tennis courts, cricket, rugby and football fields. As well as a swimming pool, squash, netball and basketball courts. Furthermore, direct access to the feet of the mountains Tom and Kelly provide the students with the opportunity to go hiking and climbing.

Additionally, the Waterford campus houses an IT-centre, a library, an indoor-outdoor dining hall, amphitheatre, tuck-shop, and several other halls for recreational activities.

Student Life

Housing System & Intramural Activities

Students are divided into three houses, Henderson (house colour: white), Stern (house colour: blue) and Guedes (house colour: maroon), and compete for house points in both academics and sport. Upon the end of each academic year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup.

Extracurricular Activities

All students are encouraged to spend at least two afternoons a week participating in extracurricular sports or other activities. Activities are supervised by members of staff, volunteers or IB students. The emphasis is on participation rather than competition, although in some disciplines it is possible to arrange regular and competitive meetings with other local schools. Examples of team sports played at Waterford include: soccer, swimming, hockey and basketball. Student organisations include: Amnesty International, GAP (Gender Awareness Project), Scouting, Culture Club and the Young Heroes group which raises funds for Swazi orphans and vulnerable children (

Community Service

Besides being a part of the CAS (Creativity Action and Service Programme) requirements of the IB Diploma, Community Service has always been an important part of the life of the college. All International Baccalaureate and Form 5 students take part each week in a variety of activities serving the community in Swaziland, and students in the lower forms are offered weekend Community Service activities as often as possible. Current Community Service Projects include the following:

  • Play sessions with abandoned children from Ward 8 at the Mbabane Government Hospital
  • Literacy classes for children from the SOS Children's Village
  • Construction of houses for child-headed households and grandparents caring for AIDS orphans
  • Ngwempisi hiking trail environmental project
  • Music classes with orphans and vulnerable children at the SACRO drop in centre
  • Aids education through drama workshops with local primary schools


Waterford Kamhlaba's Emhlabeni (IB) Hostel

Forms 1-3

Forms 1-3 students take a number of compulsory subjects in a broad range of topics before choosing their courses in Form Four for the IGCSE school-leaving certificate.

Forms 4-5 (IGCSE)

IGCSEs are based on a 2-year school course for 14 - 16 year olds. They are internationally recognised as appropriate preparation for further study at pre-university level (IB or A level standard), and are sufficient for entry to university in Swaziland, Lesotho, Zambia and Botswana. At Waterford Kamhlaba students may study up to 10 different subjects at IGCSE level, although most take between 7 and 9. All students are required to sit English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, at least one Experimental Science, one Humanity and a foreign language. Otherwise, they may choose from any of the subjects on offer at Waterford Kamhlaba - though timetable restraints can limit a student's choice. All subjects are taught in the classroom, although many (such as the Experimental Sciences, Information Technology and Art) also require a degree of practical work, and some IGCSEs include assessed coursework (Music, PE Studies and Drama).

International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a broad and rigorous two-year university preparatory course. It is now taught in more than 1030 schools throughout the world, and is recognised in most countries as a prestigious pre-university qualification. The IB Diploma requires the student to study 6 subjects in total: three at Higher and three at Standard Level. All candidates must study their own and one other language, mathematics (or computer science), an experimental science, and a humanities subject. They may then select a sixth subject of their own free choice, in any academic area, including Art, Theatre or Music.

In addition to the six chosen subjects, the candidate is required to follow the Theory of Knowledge course (TOK) and write an Extended Essay (EE) in a subject of their choice. A further and important part of the IB Diploma is the Creativity, Action and Service programme (CAS). A minimum documented number of hours must be spent in the CAS programme in order to receive the diploma. If the full Diploma is not thought to be appropriate for an individual student, they may study for IB Certificates. The requirement for the Extended Essay and TOK are waived, and the students may choose the subjects of their choice.

Notable alumni

1963 to 1973

1974 to 1983

1984 to 2001

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Southern Africa Report - December 1986 - Remembering Fernando Honwana page 7
  3. ^ Michael Stern Obituary The Guadian 2002
  4. ^ UWC - Monwabisi Fandeso

External links

  • Waterford Kamhlaba School
  • United World Colleges

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