English Olympiad A SACEE project in association with the Grahamstown Foundation and sponsored by the DE BEERS CHAIRMAN’S FUND. A background to the English Olympiad: The English Olympiad first started as a small project in 1976 when Dr Malcolm Venter, a member of the Eastern Cape branch committee of SACEE (and now the Council’s National Chairperson) was asked to organise such an event locally. The first competition attracted 119 entries and the winner received a prize of R50. The following year the Grahamstown Foundation agreed to take over the general administration of the SACEE English Olympiad and the competition was extended to cover the whole of the old Cape Province. The number of entries rose to 332 that year. In 1978, the Olympiad was further extended to include all parts of South Africa and the number of entries continued to rise substantially from then on. The 1982 Olympiad for example attracted 2,760 entries from 256 schools, a 45% increase from the previous year. In 1985 De Beers came on board as the main sponsor of the SACEE English Olympiad. In 1995 SACEE decided to discard the existing ‘set text’ system and introduce a new ‘open book’ format. This allowed for a more theme-orientated approach. For the first time examiners were able to ask questions which were open-ended and which required p ersonal responses. This change proved to be extremely popular with a total of 4,115 entries being received that year. Two years later, 300 schools submitted a total of 4,676 entries between them and the competition has continued to grow every year since then. SACEE is extremely proud of its English Olympiad project and grateful thanks go to the main sponsors, the De Beers Chairman’s Fund and to Rhodes University for its scholarship prizes to the top fifty winners. Further thanks go to the sponsors of cash prizes for the top twenty; which include the English Academy of Southern Africa, Maskew Miller, Longman Publishers and Monash SA. In addition, SACEE is most grateful to the Grahamstown Foundation for all the organisational work undertaken by them. The Eastern Cape branch of SACEE has remained entirely responsible for the academic side of the competition since its inception in 1976. Initially the academic input was provided by Dr Malcolm Venter but since his retirement from teaching, this has been taken over by Dr Diana Ayliff a member of the SACEE Eastern Cape branch who is ably assisted by an army of markers and administrative staff. What is the ‘English Olympiad’? The English Olympiad is an annual nationwide examination open to pupils in Grades 10, 11 and 12. Its aim is to enrich and deepen the candidates’ appreciation for the English language and its literature. Read more:
  • Candidates are required to read and study a text that is compiled each year. This text is usually based on a theme such as “war”, “Shakespeare’s love poetry” or “School writing” and comes in the form of an anthology that might consist of just one genre such as drama or poetry, or a mixture of genres.
  • Although there is a rank order of the top one hundred candidates and huge prizes and bursaries for some of them, the Olympiad is more about participation and enrichment of all. What is looked for in the Olympiad is a critical, intelligent, individual response to the given works. It is not an examination where candidates can regurgitate notes or facts.
  • The prizes for the top candidates include cash prizes, books, book vouchers and scholarships. The top fifty winners are awarded scholarships by Rhodes University that largely cover their academic fees for their first year of study at the University. The top 15 enjoy a fully paid trip to the Schools’ Festival and the top three win cash prizes. The De Beers Chairman’s Fund is by far the largest sponsor of this Olympiad.
  • The closing date for entries is from mid September to early November each year and the examination is written in early March the following year.
For further details and how to enter, please contact: The Olympiad Officer, Grahamstown Foundation – P O Box 304, Grahamstown, 6140 Tel:  046 6031145 or 046 603 1107 Fax:  046 622 7462 or 086 262 6048 E-mail:  olympiad@foundation.org.za

2019 – English Olympiad Results

This year the English Olympiad drew 5712 candidates from 334 national and international schools. These included schools from throughout South Africa in addition to schools in Lesotho, and Botswana. This prestigious competition has run since 1976 and is organized jointly by the Grahamstown Foundation and SACEE.  It has been generously sponsored by De Beers since 1985.

Winners of the 2019 English Olympiad

On the 5th of March this year, entrants from Grade 10 to 12 wrote the three-hour examination. Of the 5712 entrants, 4241 wrote the Home Language paper, and 582 wrote the First Additional Language paper. The theme of the anthology studied for the examination this year was “Hidden Truths”. The anthology, compiled by SACEE and entitled, A Twist in the Tale, consisted of a collection of short stories that had surprise endings.  Both HL and FAL candidates studied from the same anthology and study guide provided.  FAL candidates were not required to study all short stories and wrote a slightly different paper that the HL candidates.  There was also a section on language in the examination that involved punctuation and how it changes meaning. The English Olympiad also focuses on assisting and enriching learners from communities where De Beers operates through the Olympiad English Development Initiative (EDI). This year, 340 learners from 9 EDI schools entered the Olympiad. EDI is an expansive and inclusive component of the Olympiad, practically helping learners in schools in the mining communities associated with De Beers enjoy the benefits of the Olympiad and increasing confidence in the use of English in these communities. Importantly this support is also adding some fun by providing an opportunity for learners to compete at a national level.

1st Place Winners – 2019 English Olympiad

Prizes for the English Olympiad awarded are as follows:
  1. The Top 3 HL candidates receive R33 000, R30 000 and R27 000 respectively.
  2. The Top 10 candidates in the FAL exam receive cash prizes from SACEE.
  3. The Top 15 HL candidates and Top 5 FAL candidates were invited to attend the Grade 12 National Schools Festival in Grahamstown/Makhanda. Their participation is sponsored by De Beers. The English Olympiad prize-giving ceremony is held during this Festival where the rank order of the top winners is announced.
  4. The Top 42 candidates in the HL exam and the Top 8 candidates in the FAL exam receive free tuition scholarships for their first year of study at Rhodes University, immediately upon successful completion of the matriculation examinations, and subject to meeting the university’s entry requirements.
  5. All candidates who complete the paper with sufficient comment receive certificates indicating a classified evaluation ranging from Participation to Gold.
‘To be placed in the top 50 is no mean achievement,’ said Dr Malcolm Venter, National Chairperson of SACEE, which is responsible for the English Olympiad together with the Grahamstown Foundation.  ‘The Olympiad demands a considerable amount of preparation on the part of the candidates, and they have to face a three-hour examination which requires answers that show original thinking and an ability to express themselves in a creative style, while at the same time substantiating their views from the prescribed text.’

The Grahamstown Foundation and the South African Council for English Education (SACEE) announced the rank order of the Top 20 Home Language (HL) Exam and the Top 5 First Additional Language Exam (FAL) winners at an official prize giving ceremony held in Grahamstown/Makhanda on Saturday 29 June 2019.

2019 English Olympiad TOP 15 Home Language (HL) winners in RANK ORDER
RANK Title First name Surname Grade School
1 Ms Shannon Morrison 12 Cornwall Hill College
2 Mr Sean Cameron 12 Cornwall Hill College
3 Ms Katherine Duvenage 12 Roedean School South Africa
4 Ms Emily Barnes 12 Parktown High School for Girls
5 Ms Yunan Liu 12 Maru-A-Pula School Botswana
6 Ms Ilana Jacobs 12 St Mary’s DSG Pretoria
7 Ms Kerin Stead 11 York High School
8 Ms Caitlyn Venter 12 St Dominics Priory School
9 Ms Amira Karstaedt 10 King David High School Victory Park
10 Mr Max Milella 12 St John’s College
11 Ms Caitlin Honeywell 12 Durban Girls’ College
12 Ms Marcelle Rademeyer 12 St Cyprian’s School
13 Ms Michaela Scholtz 12 Durban Girls’ High School
14 Ms Bianca Jardim 12 Rhenish Girls’ High
15 Ms Caro Botha 12 Parel Vallei High School
2019 English Olympiad TOP 5 First Additional Language (FAL) winners in RANK ORDER
RANK Title First name Surname Grade School
1 Ms Lethokuhle Khumalo 11 Port Shepstone High School
2 Ms Heleen Pretorius 12 Hoërskool Garsfontein
3 Ms Bianca Nel 12 Oudtshoorn High School
4 Mr Dewan Barnard 12 Oudtshoorn High School
5 Ms Mieke van den Berg 12 Hoërskool Garsfontein

To download the complete results list in rank order please click on the following link:

 Top 100 (Home Language)

Top 18   (First Additional Language)

The call for entries for the 2020 Olympiad will be issued to schools in mid July 2019.

 2018 English Olympiad Results

The Grahamstown Foundation and the South African Council for English Education (SACEE) have announced the rank order of the top 100 English Olympiad winners at an official prize giving ceremony held in Grahamstown on 10 July 2018. The English Olympiad is an annual English competition that drew more than 6411 Home Language and First Additional Language (FAL) entries this year from  high schools throughout South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana and Mozambique. This prestigious competition has been running since 1976 and is organised jointly by the Grahamstown Foundation and the South African Council for English Education (SACEE). It has been sponsored by De Beers since 1985. ‘To be placed in the top 50 is no mean achievement,’ said Dr Malcolm Venter, National Chairperson of the South African Council for English Education, which is responsible for the English Olympiad together with the Grahamstown Foundation.  ‘The Olympiad demands a considerable amount of preparation on the part of the candidates, and they have to face a three-hour examination which requires answers that show original thinking and ability to express themselves in a creative style, while at the same time substantiating their views from the prescribed text.’

 2018 English Olympiad Winners!

Front row: David Weber, Westville Boys’ High School; Camilla James, Kingswood College (3rd place); Dr Malcolm Venter; SACEE National Chair; Keara Martino, St Mary’s School Waverley (1st place); Theodore Pauw, Jan van Riebeeck High School (5th place). Middle row: Georgina Stanley, St Stithians Girls’ College Randburg; Holly Munks, Durban Girls’ College; Olwethu Sigwela, St Martin’s School; Jenna Murison, Ashton Ballito College; Cenelle Gounden, Durban Girls’ College; Shannon Morrison, Cornwall Hill College. Back row: Rebecca Behne, Rustenburg High School for Girls; Astrid Burgess, Hoërskool Waterkloof; Emma Rogers, St Mary’s School Waverley.

2018 English Olympiad (HL) TOP 20 in RANK ORDER!

Rank Title First name Last name School
1 Ms Keara Martino St Mary’s School, Waverley
2 Mr Joshua Jankelow Crawford College Sandton
3 Ms Camilla James Kingswood College
4 Ms Ashley Eichstadt Stirling High
5 Mr Theodore Pauw Jan van Riebeeck High School
6 Mr David Weber Westville Boys’ High School
7 Ms Louise Goethals Jan van Riebeeck High School
8 Ms Holly Munks Durban Girls’ College
9 Ms Jenna Murison Ashton Ballito College
10 Ms Cenelle Gounden Durban Girls’ College
11 Mr Olwethu Sigwela St Martin’s School
12 Ms Shannon Morrison Cornwall Hill College
13 Ms Emma Rogers St Mary’s School, Waverley
14 Ms Georgina Stanley St Stithians Girls’ College, Randburg
15 Ms Rebecca Behne Rustenburg High School for Girls
16 Ms Jasmina Singh Durban Girls’ High School
17 Ms Rachel Strachen Kingswood College
18 Ms Muskaan Singh Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School
19 Mr Francois Kemp Camps Bay High School
20 Mr Gabbriel Bakker Curro Nelspruit

2018 First Additional Language (FAL) Top 20 in RANK ORDER!

Rank Title First Name Surname School
1 Ms Liesl Hartley Hoërskool Nelspruit
2 Mr Tian Louw Paul Roos Gymnasium
3 Ms Astrid Burgess Hoërskool Waterkloof
4 Ms Vuyolwethu Memani Zenex – Sakha Ikamva Project
5 Ms Aretha le Roux Worcester Gymnasium
6 Ms Ané van der Walt Die Hoërskool Menlopark
7 Ms Sonet Vermaak Hoërskool Nelspruit
8 Ms Cherith Millward Brackenfell High School
9 Ms Monique Diergaardt Maths and Science Leadership Academy
10 Mr Armand van Rhyn Drostdy THS
11 Ms Bianca Nel Oudtshoorn High School
12 Mr Hanno Strauss Hoërskool Sentraal
13 Mr Thamsanqa Makeleni Woolhope Secondary School
14 Ms Makhosazana Mashaba Leap Science and Maths School, Benmore
15 Ms Tshepiso Mudau Millennium Combined School
16 Ms Sesethu Kasper Zenex – Sakha Ikamva Project
17 Ms Mamotumi Notši Machabeng College Lesotho
18 Ms Mbali Phiri Leap Science and Maths School, Benmore
19 Ms Zelina Dennis Machabeng College Lesotho
20 Ms Anika van Zyl Hoërskool Nelspruit
For a complete list of the Top 100 in rank order please click here. For more information can be found on the following website: www.SAenglisholympiad.org.za The call for entries for the 2019 Olympiad will be issued to schools at the beginning of August 2018.