Vice-Chancellor sees OUP mission in action in South Africa

15 November 2022
3 min read

We were delighted to host Professor Dame Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, for a special visit to see our work in South Africa last week.

A warm Cape Town welcome

Our colleagues in our Cape Town Office hosted the visit, and Nigel Portwood, CEO, Fathima Dada, Managing Director of the Education division, and Hanri Pieterse, Managing Director – Africa, welcomed Professor Richardson.

The Vice-chancellor heard directly from our colleagues as well as organizations, academics, teachers, and students we work with in the region, about the opportunities and challenges of the education sector in South Africa. Professor Jonathan D. Jansen, gave a lecture on the future of higher education and the low number of students currently progressing from school to an undergraduate degree.

Professor Richardson also visited two township schools: Itsitsa Primary School and Athlone North Primary School. There, she saw the commitment of teachers and students to overcome resourcing and social challenges. She also saw how Oxford Reading Tree books were enjoyed by learners, and visited a new library at Athlone North stocked with our books thanks to a partnership with AVBOB—Africa’s largest Mutual Assistance Society. The library has become the students’ favourite space to spend playtime.

Mission in action

The Mandela Rhodes Foundation also hosted the Vice-Chancellor at Nelson Mandela’s former home in the Bishopscourt area of Cape Town. Through the Foundation, we support scholarships for young leaders from across Africa so that they can become part of Nelson Mandela’s legacy of transformative impact. She had the chance to meet some of the scholars and hear directly about their experiences. 

Later in the week, Professor Richardson was the guest of honour at a reception for Oxford alumni at the British High Commission. Former Scholars of the Clarendon Scholarship programme – funded by OUP –  joined the reception.

Reflections on the week

Speaking about the value of the visit, Professor Richardson said: “It is such an honour to visit Cape Town and to finally get the opportunity to meet schools and communities directly impacted by the wonderful work being carried out by OUP here since 1915.”

Reflecting on OUP’s long history in South Africa, Nigel Portwood said:

“OUP has been a witness to the changing face of publishing, but we remain true to our mission and the values that are part of the University.”

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