In 1893 a group of people, lead by the Rev BP Marchand, decided that a school for girls was badly needed in Rondebosch and they obtained transfer of a portion of the Rustenburg Estate where, on the 19th January 1894 classes began at what was known as Rondebosch Girls’ High School, Rustenburg.
The school opened with 76 pupils, including 7 boarders and 11 boys. Despite the efforts of the authorities to channel boys to the newly established Rondebosch Boys’ High School, kindergarten classes included boys into the 1940’s, just as some girls attended the Boys’ school kindergarten classes.
As early as 1921 there was discussion about a possible new site for the High School. It was evident that the school had outgrown the site on the Main Road and that further expansion was inevitable. In fact, the move started on 11th July 1932. It was acknowledged that the division of the school was essential, but it was envisaged that they would remain new parts of a whole – an elder and a younger sister of one family. Handsome new buildings were erected, and 311 pupils in Standards 7 to 10 moved to the new site, leaving behind 400 pupils in the Junior School.
During the decades before the political transformation of the early 1990s, admission to Rustenburg, as with other schools in South Africa, was segregated, according to the laws of those days. The school was a member of a group called the Open Schools Association, which lobbied for our schools to be opened to learners across the entire South African population. Towards the end of the 1980s, Rustenburg indicated to the Department that it would welcome the opportunity to open our school if we were allowed to do so. During 1990 this permission was granted, and in January 1991 Rustenburg opened its doors to girls of different races and nationalities.
Meanwhile as the decade of the 1990s wore on, more and more diverse learners were enrolled at Rustenburg. The 2000’s saw an increase in the technology available for teaching and a big change in the National school curriculum, which in itself brought different challenges to the school.
While the façade of the school has remained unchanged over the years, various new classrooms have been added, a dedicated Music Block built, attached to the hostel, and in 1971, the new school hall, incorporating the old Kemp Hall and a brand new foyer was opened. In 2014, a new Mathematics and Physical Sciences building was opened and a new Astroturf Hockey Playing Field inaugurated.
The past few years have seen a raised consciousness in sustainability. As a school we now recycle close to 100% of all our waste and by the end of this term, we hope to be self-sustaining as far as our water supply is concerned.
Today, Rustenburg is ranked highly among the top ten schools in the Western Cape, and there is no doubt that the foundations laid at the start have been key to its success. 124 years of educating and preparing young women as leaders is a legacy of which to be proud.