You are smarter than you think


Professor Jonathan Jansen visited Riebeek College Girls’ High School on Wednesday 10 June 2015.  His humourous and charismatic manner enthralled  all at Riebeek.  Teachers who had attended the University of Orange Free State or whose children had were thrilled to get a chance to shake his hand, and the learners and staff were quite star struck by this larger than life role model. One lucky learner was given an University of Free State beanie and she was thrilled with the gift.  Prof Jansen also visited the Consumer Studies room and tasted the matric practical eats(cup cakes and pumpkin fritters) and enjoyed tea on the verandah with Mrs Woods and Mrs Snyman.  Professor Jansen was very impressed with the calmness of Riebeek’s principal in giving him directions to the school – “I have never had such calm, clear directions which means either your principal is very smart or the town is very small.”  He told the story of his Latin teacher who told a young Prof Jansen that he had potential.  “I never again accepted coming second in class simply because somebody told me: You are smarter than you think,” said Prof Jansen. He added: “I want to tell you young, beautiful women of Riebeek College, you are smarter than you think.”  His message to the girls included these pearls of wisdom with the Riebeek girls: “You are better than us.  Get a degree but also get decency.  Get an education but also get in the beautiful Afrikaans word “n opvoeding which is more than an education – it is becoming human.  And as you carry with you the memory of this beautiful heart, your teacher Jayde, I want you to grieve as you have and should but I also want you to look at over the rainbow and see the future.”


“It was good for our girls and staff to have a chance to laugh after the tragic times that befell us.  Although it was exam time, we were absolutely thrilled when we were contacted about Prof Jansen wanting to pay us a visit.  We felt honoured that he had heard of our bravery and of our achievements. We are thankful to Prof Jansen for sharing himself so fully with us in an amazing, inspirational and uplifting speech.  To hear him play on the piano was an added bonus!  I have no doubt that every child left the hall today feeling determined to reach her full potential.”



Prof Jonathan Jansen was appointed as Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State on 1 July 2009. He is an Honorary Professor of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand, received an honorary doctorate in Education from the Cleveland State University, USA in 2010 and was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Science of the Developing World (TWAS) in the same year. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the National Research Foundation (NRF).

 June 11, 2015
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