St George’s College Celebrates 125 Years of Jesuit Education

In 1896, a French Jesuit Priest Fr. Marc Barthelemy opened the door of a small corrugated – iron, two-windowed hut to admit the first six students to Bulawayo Boys’ School. The date was January 13th, and the boys were Leonard and Lancelot Makin, Hubert and William Halder, Edgar Rorke and Otto Cooper. The first assistant teacher was Fr. Victor Nicot.

In 1925, because the school had become too large for the property in Bulawayo, it was decided to relocate to Salisbury now Harare and opened officially in January 1927. The architect of the new buildings was Fr. Louis Leboeuf SJ and the principal builder and carpenter was Br. John Conway SJ. In 1931, the new College crest was approved by the Royal Herald’s College in the United Kingdom.

In 1970, to mark the approaching 75th anniversary of the College, the Trident Development Project was launched. Its principal focus was upon the construction of the Chapel, completed in 1973, as well as the laboratory block extension which adjoined the “Monastery” and “Priory”, a new cricket pavilion in 1971, and two, out of the planned four, squash courts were completed in 1972. In 1984, the Bulawayo Wing was opened which houses a lecture theatre and IT laboratories.

Post-Independence in 1980, the next significant development was the appointment of the first lay Headmaster of the College in January 1992, together with two lay Deputy Headmasters. They ran all aspects of the school, under the overall spiritual and strategic guidance of the Rector and this situation had prevailed until 2016, when, following a further reconstructing, the two deputy positions were replaced by a single Deputy Headmaster and three Divisional Heads. A College Administrator was also appointed, who directly reports to the Rector.

Three other major events in the history of the College thus far have been the buildings programme initiated to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the College in 1996, the opening in 2017 of a new primary school wing at Hartmann House, and the building of a completely new science centre commencing in 2016. The Centennial Appeal Fund raised sufficient funds in the early 1990s to construct 10 new staff houses on the College property, essential at a time when the number of Jesuits on the staff had dwindled and on site accommodation was required for the growing complement of lay staff.

The opening of the Paul Miki ECD Centre at Hartmann House, on its 60th Anniversary, was an important element of a new Strategic Plan that will see Hartmann House catering for the full range of primary school grades from 0-7. A boy entering the primary school at aged 5 will most likely spend his entire school career on the Hartmann Hill site. Incidentally, Hartmann House also opened the Jubilee Hall in 2013, an essential facility for a junior school that has grown to around 430 students.

In November 2018, the Fr. Michael Ross SJ Science Centre was opened. This impressive building has 11 fully fitted modern laboratories, 3 preparation rooms and offices. The additional teaching space created has allowed for the reallocation, as well as the revamping and modernization of the older classrooms, thus facilitating an increase in Sixth Form numbers.

In 2020, the Lower 6 intake included Female students, bringing St George’s College in line with the 2019 Jesuit Universal Apostolic Preferences. With the current student number at the College standing at around 840, and taking into account Hartmann House as well, there are in effect around 1270 pupils learning in an environment where the Jesuit Ignatian guiding principal is AMDG – Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

In 2021, the College will be celebrating its Quasquicentennial (125 years) and the Old Georgians’ Association (Alumni) Centenary (100 years). As the college celebrates this milestone, John Farrelly the current College headmaster noted “we reflect upon and celebrate where St George’s College has come from and where it plans to be in the future. The College will continue to offer a balanced education with a strong emphasis on academic excellence, sporting prowess, diverse cultural and extramural activities all in the context of its Ignatian Ethos. This is the foundation through which St George’s College will continue to be relevant, influential and significant as an educational institution in the region for years to come.”

As St George’s College celebrate 125 years of offering an all-round education, they recognized and celebrates with their top achievers in AS and A Level Cambridge exams for 2020. There were only 4 students in Zimbabwe who received Top in the World Awards for AS and A Level and two of these are St George’s College students.