Following large-scale revamping in the educational system, a blog post on my personal experience at the Queen Elizabeth College, before the advent of the nine-year schooling system, seemed mandatory. Now that co-education is being introduced, several changes will undoubtedly be implemented to the landscape. While I am all for progressive systems, let us have a look at 'conventional' QEC.
Founded under British rule in 1952 prior to Mauritius obtaining its independence, the QEC rapidly acquired its reputation of academic rigour and consistent standards of excellence. Its legacy and contribution to the country will always remain.
The first rector renamed our classes after precious gems instead of the traditional 'Red, Blue, Yellow, Green', namely, Beryl, Garnet, Jade, and Onyx. Permission was sought from Buckingham to imprint the crown symbol on our metallic school badge. Our white blouse and dark green tunic buttoned at the front won us the 'Cateau Vert' nickname, a typical Mauritian bird.
Named after Queen Elizabeth II, the establishment heralded the era of progress and opportunities for girls who could now access quality secondary education which eventually opened doors to tertiary education. With admission criteria revolving around academic performance, the QEC has welcomed students from various social backgrounds opening up avenues of upwards social mobility in the long run.
Mauritius perceives QEC students as "la crème de la crème" (the best of the best) and elitist due to them consistently topping academic charts both locally and globally. Often viewed as the "laureate-producing factory", what many people do not know is that the environment catered for our development holistically-speaking.
Far from restricting us to our textbooks, the QEC provided us with a wide spectrum of clubs and societies. I personally registered to the Benevolent Club to raise my awareness of societal problems such as single-parenthood, extreme poverty and child abuse from a very young age. The Civics and Human Values Club outlined the importance of respecting various religions, opinions and values even though you might not personally share them. We were taught to show the same respect to both teaching and non-teaching staff. This notion of cultural sensitivity has facilitated the integration process in several spheres of life be it at university in Australia or in the workplace with expats.
Being stellar in what we undertake was, and will always be in our DNA. Nevertheless, this is not restricted to bookish knowledge but effectively extended to the widest school of all: the school of life. We may be famed for our intellect but our doctrine is to contribute towards making society more progressive and better than it was yesterday.
QEC alumnae have grown into valuable contributors in several fields from finance, science, technology to psychology and arts. Similarly, I have no doubts that they are striving to become excellent colleagues, mothers, partners and friends. That 7-year journey was ephemeral but the lessons and values acquired from it are lifelong.
As rightly pointed out in our motto, Non Solum Eruditioni Sed Vitae, not only for education but for life.