educating girls

‘Educating girls has to be our number one priority in the world today,’ says Nelson Mandela’s former bodyguard, Chris Lubbe




Portsmouth High School GDST senior girls, from Years 10-13, were the proud recipients of achievement awards and cups last night as friends, family, pupils and staff from the school gathered for an evening of celebration. The evening was attended by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Frank Jonas, and the Mayors of Havant and Fareham. 

The Chair of Governors, and alumna of the school, Mrs Anne McMeehan Roberts, gave the welcome address. The guest speaker was Mr Chris Lubbe.  Chris was instrumental in peacefully opposing apartheid.  After Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 Chris was invited to be one of his bodyguards and worked with Mandela until his retirement in 1998.  Chris now lives in Hampshire and is a UNICEF Ambassador championing children’s rights.  Last year he was the recipient of  ‘The Bram Stoker Award’ for political activism from Trinity College, University of Dublin.

‘We have an old African proverb that says ‘When you educate a man you educate an individual but when you educate a girl you educate a society,’ said Mr Lubbe.

‘But yet according to the UN, nearly 775 million adults are illiterate; two thirds of them women, making gender equality even harder to achieve. The scale of illiteracy among

youth also represents an enormous challenge; an estimated 122 million youth globally are illiterate, of which young women represent 60.7%. Educating girls has to be our number one priority in the world today.’

One of the prize recipients was Adele O’Callaghan (18) who received the Shepherd Prize for Chemistry.  Adele received 3 As and a B at A Levels this summer. ‘My grandfather worked in chemistry so I have always wanted to follow in his footsteps,’ said Adele. ‘It’s been my favourite subject for years and am going to Bath to read Chemical Engineering.’

Headmistress Mrs Jane Prescott, added in her address: ‘Education is not just about examination results and prizes – it’s about the way schools help young people prepare for the world and use their minds to pursue a meaningful and good life. About how schools help pupils see their purpose in life. I am extremely proud of the pupils in this school and the young women they become is in part testament to the guidance they receive from their parents, teachers and families as they navigate the choppy waters of adolescence. We all have something to celebrate in this room tonight.’

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