Scroll to top

A letter to Old Hiltonians – 9 July 2021

A Culture of Giving - Quarter 2 - 2021

Dear Hiltonians,

When Hilton’s ninth headmaster, Raymond Slater, formalised the school prayer in 1967, he infused the last paragraph with the words “Preserve in it an unblemished name, enlarge it with a wider usefulness”.

The Vula Programme at Hilton College was started in 2001 as the school’s flagship community outreach initiative (“vula” means “open” in isiZulu). Focussed on improving educational outcomes at disadvantaged schools in KwaZulu Natal, the Vula Programme uses digital technologies, innovative teaching methods and experienced facilitators to upskill teachers of high school Mathematics and Physical Science.

The Vula Mathematics Project has, as its primary focus, the Vula Mathematics Academy (VuMA) – an in-service, residential training course for practising teachers from under-resourced schools. VuMA’s unique model allows for groups of teachers to spend a full school term at Hilton, being exposed to new and exciting ways of teaching Mathematics. Integral to the VuMA model is a deep immersion in the practical use of digital technologies and exposure to modern methods of teaching Mathematics. Each teacher attending VuMA is also provided with a laptop, loaded with relevant software and content, that they take back to their schools after completion of their internships.

The Vula Science Project helps teachers from disadvantaged communities acquire the necessary skills and confidence to incorporate practical experiments into their everyday teaching of Physical Science. The project also offers a number of other benefits including the loaning of equipment required for practical work, the provision of teaching material, visits to schools to assist with lessons and experiments, and an annual residential workshop at Hilton.

Teachers attending residential workshops are accommodated on the Hilton College campus in one of the two Vula Lodges, made possible by the generosity of the Chamberlain family, the Victor Daitz Foundation and Canadian based Old Hiltonian, Hugh Snyder. Together, the Vula Lodges can provide comfortable accommodation for up to 48 teachers at any one time.

Annually, approximately 620 teachers and 4,000 leaners benefit directly from the Vula Programme, with more than 200 teachers attending the in-service residential workshops at the school. Equipment for Physical Science experiments is now sponsored at over 20 different schools. According to independent evaluator Dr Sharon Grussendorff, “Vula schools are clearly achieving better results than their equivalent counterparts”, with Mathematics results being about 20% higher in schools with Vula – trained teachers.

In all respects, the Vula Programme at Hilton College is truly exceptional.

No other South African school provides a dedicated educational outreach initiative that includes in-service, residential training courses for practising teachers from disadvantaged backgrounds at scale.

Through the Vula Programme at Hilton College, the school’s purpose has indeed been enlarged “with a wider usefulness”. I think Raymond Slater would be proud.

With your support there is so much more that the Vula Programme can achieve, hence why The “Vula” Fund – a Community Outreach Fund – is one of the four endowment funds we are purposefully trying to grow.

For more information on how you can get involved, please visit

When next you visit Hilton, make a point of visiting the Vula Lodges. They are evidence of a positive contribution to our communities at large.

Yours sincerely,

Anton Jooste

Chairman, Old Hiltonian Club