Alistair Stewart awarded the Paul Harris Fellow Award

July 13, 2022 | Campus

On Tuesday, 5 July 2022, our Head of Advancement, Alistair Stewart, was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow Award by the Rotary Club of Johannesburg (the oldest Rotary Club in Africa and also the parent club of our St Stithians Boys’ College Interact Club) in recognition for his invaluable contribution to education, the upliftment of underprivileged communities, and for epitomising the Rotary Motto of Service Above Self.  A donation of $1000 was made to the Rotary International Foundation in Alistair’s name to support the community service work being done by 1.4 million Rotarians across the globe to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace by improving health, providing quality education, improving the environment and alleviating poverty. 


Alistair receives the Paul Harris Fellow Award.

The following tribute was read-out before the award was handed over to Alistair:

Alistair Alan Clark Stewart began his career as a teacher in 1985. After working in South Africa and Botswana, in January 2000 he was appointed Head of St Stithians Boys’ Preparatory School. In 2015 he was asked by the Rector to open and head up an Advancement Office, one of the first schools in South Africa to do so, following the lead of similar schools overseas. This entailed focusing on the long-term sustainability of the College, growing a community of belonging, and an endowment fund for St Stithians College and the Thandulwazi Maths and Science Academy. Included in the portfolio of the Advancement Office are admissions, marketing, PR and communications, strategic events, archives and the Old Stithian Association (alumni). Linked, due to the fundraising component, is the focus on the community engagement programme – The Thandulwazi Maths and Science Academy, which is the 7th school on the campus.

Throughout his career, in addition to managing and leading schools, Alistair’s passion has been for engagement with and the upliftment of previously disadvantaged communities to enable the provision of equal education for all. His focus has always been to assist anyone with a passion to learn or to teach and to help people achieve their goals, whether they be gap students on exchange at his schools, intern teachers, current teachers or those arriving on campus through the Thandulwazi Maths and Science Academy.

Some of Alistair’s Innovations include:

The growth and development of using Marimbas as an educational and transformational instrument.

During his time as a teacher and Deputy Headmaster in Botswana, Alistair fell in love with the sound of the Marimba percussion instrument and saw how this instrument could be used not only to develop African music but also as a way to bring people of all backgrounds together. On his return to South Africa as Head of St Stithians Boys’ Prep, he was determined to bring these sounds of Africa to the College, and to the wider community of schools in the country. He persuaded the Marimba teacher from Botswana, Mr Michael Sibanda, to join him at St Stithians and establish a class for the teaching of that instrument. The rest is history. The Marimba band grew from its small start at the Prep to throughout the whole College, to many schools in the area, to local festivals, nationally and on to worldwide touring. The Saints’ marimba band have performed on five continents to audiences of thousands and been a real instrument to not only promote African music but also a way to bring different cultures together as they make music together. Hundreds of boys and girls have now had the privilege of learning the instrument and sharing it with the world.

A side benefit is that Mr Sibanda has the Saints Marimba instruments handmade and as the love for the instrument has grown a small industry has grown in and around South Africa.

The Thandulwazi Maths and Science Academy 

Not long after his appointment as head of the Prep School, on a visit to Penryn College in Mpumalanga, Alistair saw how Penryn used their facilities over a weekend to help educate teachers and students from all over Mpumalanga with their community engagement programme named Penreach. With the simple realization that most school facilities are not used over a weekend the opportunity to share the excellent facilities of St Stithians College with teachers and students from under resourced schools in surrounding areas needed to become a reality.

After finding donors and facilitators, St Stithians Boys’ Preparatory School became the home for teachers to improve their skills. Thus far over 14 000 teachers have benefited from the Teacher Development Programme of the Academy. (See Infographic below.)

Established in October 2005 by the St Stithians College Foundation and now incorporated as the 7th School of the College, the Thandulwazi Maths and Science Academy is a nation-building educational programme which supports the South African Government’s Basic Education Sector goals, as set out in the National Development Plan; Vision for 2030 and the Department of Basic Education’s Action Plan 2019; Towards the realization of schooling 2030. The Academy recognises that by providing a greater number of young people access to quality education, they are providing them with the knowledge and skills needed to become active and contributing members of the broader South African community and economy; and of course, effective, well trained, professional teachers play a critical role if this goal is to be achieved. The overall vision is a South Africa where every child has access to quality basic education; attends a well-resourced school; where effective teaching and learning is taking place across all educational phases and particularly in gateway subjects (Mathematics, the Sciences, Accounting and Languages).

Since 2010 the programme has also been involved in teacher training and uplifting educational facilities in Limpopo Province. In 2022 they have grown this programme to include providing internship opportunities to encourage top students to become teachers.

We, One and All, congratulate Alistair on this inspiring achievement and thank him for making a world of difference.


Fiona Schwartz (EA to Alistair), Charne Haak (Stakeholder Relations Manager), Alistair Stewart and Julia Phipps (Alumni & Endowment Stakeholder Relations)


Alistair celebrates with his wife Ruth, sons James and Michael and daughter Kate.

#PurposeInspired #PassionDriven #InspiringExcellence #MakingAWorldOfDifference #StrongerOneAndAll