Contact Details

Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa
Head: Mr Stephen Lowry
Waterford Park
Kamhlaba Road
P.O. Box 52
+268 2 422 0866

Waterford Kamhlaba UWC at a glance


Percentage of IB Diploma Programme students receiving partial/full scholarships


Percentage of Waterford students from the African continent


Waterford Kamhlaba graduates received need-based Davis UWC scholarships to study at USA universities


Global body of students aged 11-20, from 59 countries are educated annually.

7 000+

Global alumni network

“The exposure to different cultures that I had at Waterford Kamhlaba UWC gave me a global perspective that has proven to be a comparative advantage even at the workplace today. The quality of education and balanced program brought the best out of my academic and sporting talents. The warm social atmosphere also saw me make life-long friends who I communicate with regularly to-date.”

Kevin Irungu, (Kenya, Waterford Kamhlaba UWC, 2009-2010)
Consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, PwC Kenya

“Anyone of you who were wondering whether you want to support Waterford Kamhlaba UWC, know that you are investing in an outstanding institution that has produced some quite remarkable human beings”

Desmond Tutu, – Parent of a Waterford Kamhlaba UWC alumna

“Waterford Kamhlaba UWC exposes students to local manifestations of global challenges, including inequality and injustices in people’s material lives”

Laurence Nodder,  (Rektor, UWC Robert Bosch College and past Principal of Waterford Kamhlaba UWC)

“The College [Waterford Kamhlaba UWC] makes such a distinctive contribution to education in Southern Africa, and is such an effective witness to all that UWC stands for”

HRH The Prince of Wales, past President of UWC, on Waterford’s 25th anniversary


Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa, a remarkable and pioneering secondary school based in Mbabane, Swaziland is not-for-profit. For over 50 years it has provided exceptional opportunities for academic achievement, personal growth and leadership development for students from across southern Africa and beyond.

Founded in 1963 with just 16 students, as Southern Africa’s first multiracial school, Waterford Kamhlaba UWC has successfully demonstrated that students thrive and excel in a non-racial environment, educated side by side on equal terms. The school has grown to accommodate over 600 students, and its earliest ideals of courage, leadership, equality, personal responsibility and academic excellence remain at its core.

In its early days, Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa educated former South African president Nelson Mandela’s daughters, the children of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and anti-apartheid activist and African National Congress stalwart Walter Sisulu, President Ian Khama of Botswana, among others. Today, many of the school’s students are all too familiar with Africa’s current challenges: poverty, conflict, HIV/AIDS and a damaged society with a high proportion of orphaned young people.

Waterford Kamhlaba’s Education programme is specifically designed to produce graduates who are global citizens and who can make a positive impact on the world. Students are selected on the basis of academic excellence and extra-curricular potential, with scholarship support vital to ensuring that the opportunity extends to those who would not otherwise be able to attend. The academic programme is rigorous, building on UWC’s pioneering role in creating the International Baccalaureate to establish a curriculum which rewards academic and societal excellence in equal measure.

Through the generosity of American philanthropist Shelby Davies, students of limited financial means are able to attend US universities on full scholarships. A Waterford Kamhlaba education therefore unlocks access to tertiary education without cost for our most disadvantaged students.



Three Unique Features

  • Strong Relationships with Local Change-Makers – The School, through community service, has strong relations with local organizations such as the refugee camp and neighborhood care points (children welfare centers).
  • Waterford Kamhlaba is the only UWC school in Africa: Waterford Kamhlaba is in a unique position as an ambassador of UWC’s ideals and mission on the continent; having educated a large group of African changemakers since its founding. Waterford Kamhlaba UWC strives to lay the foundations for its students to become responsible citizens who have the skills, knowledge and sense of purpose to provide leadership both in Africa and the world
  • First Multiracial school in Southern Africa – Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa was founded in 1963 as a response to the separate and unequal educational systems during the apartheid regime in South Africa, which branded it “sick” and “unnatural.” The school became a haven for children of the leaders of struggle leaders against apartheid such as  Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Desmond Tutu.

The property on which the School is situated was originally a farm called “Waterford Park Estate”. When His Majesty King Sobhuza II, the former Ngwenyama of Swaziland, visited the school in 1967, he gave it the name “Kamhlaba”, by which he meant both “of the world”, a world in miniature, and also that we are “of the earth” and therefore without distinctions such as race or religion. Differently to all the other UWC schools and colleges, the academic year at Waterford Kamhlaba runs from January to November.

Geographic Setting

Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa is perched on a hill on the Waterford Park overlooking Mbabane, Swaziland’s capital of Mbabane. The campus is home to an incredible blend of indigenous flora and fauna. Hiking trails up the school’s peak provide an incredible view of Swaziland’s picturesque landscape.

Campus and Facilities

Originally designed by renowned Portuguese-Mozambiquean  architect Amancio (Pancho) Guedes, Waterford Kamhlaba has grown as much in physical size as it has in student numbers. The school has 4 student residences: Ekukhuleni (the place of growing) residence accommodates up to 80 Form 1, 2 and 3 students. Esiveni (the place of the people of the nation) accommodates up to 110 Form 4 and 5 students. Emhlabeni (the place of the people of the world) and Elangeni (the place of the rising sun) accommodate, respectively, up to 130 and 68 IB Diploma Programme students, in either single rooms or shared rooms; they consist of separate wings for males and females, a common room, computer centre, library, TV room and kitchen. Each day there is one male and one female residence tutor on duty in each residence.

Other facilities on campus include sports facilities,

  • The Tony Hatton Library
  • Michael Stern Hall,
  • Christopher Newton Thompson IT Centre,
  • Newton Thompson Multipurpose Hall
  • Michael Stern Science Labs,
  • Mountbatten Language Learning Centre
  • Jane Holland Centre for Creative Learning
  • Sheila and Richard Attenborough Fine Art Centre

In the Classroom

Waterford Kamhlaba offers three educational programmes: the Waterford curriculum in the junior school, consisting of Forms 1 to 3 (11-14 year-olds); the University of Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) programme in the middle school, consisting of Forms 4 and 5 (14-16 year-olds); and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) curriculum in the senior school (16-20 year-olds).

Students in Form 5 do not gain automatic admission to the IBDP, but need to go through an application process.

For the IBDP curriculum, the school offers alongside standard courses SiSwati, French, Spanish, Anthropology, Psychology, Business Management, Music, Theatre.

Outside the Classroom

Since 1979, a commitment to community service has also been formally recognized as an essential part of the school’s policy, organisation and life. A regular commitment of two hours a week to a service project is required of IBDP and Form 5 students. Students can take part in diverse range of projects that reflect the college’s values, including: promoting international and cultural understanding, caring for orphans, teaching literacy, building soup kitchens for some of the most impoverished communities in Swaziland, taking part in environmental initiatives, teaching sports to vulnerable children, supporting those affected by HIV and Aids, which has had a devastating impact in Swaziland as in so many sub-Saharan African countries work a local hospital, working with the physically challenged at local schools and environmental awareness initiatives.

There’s a vigorous and wide-ranging programme of extra-curricular activities in the evenings and at weekends. These include student-led initiatives such as: film festivals and international focus weeks. Waterford Kamhlaba UWC offers a wide variety of sporting activities, including athletics, badminton, basketball, cricket, hockey, netball, rugby, soccer, softball, squash, swimming, volleyball and tennis. Other co-curricular activities include camping, climbing, horse riding, kayaking and road as well as cross-country running.

Laurence Nodder, Rektor UWC Robert Bosch College, Germany and Past Principal, Waterford Kamhlaba UWC, Swaziland

Over the last 54 years, the students, graduates and staff of Waterford Kamhlaba UWC have made a profound impact on southern Africa and indeed on Africa as a whole and a wider world. They have been joined by the graduates of further UWCs and by the volunteers that over the years have built and strengthened the UWC National Committee system in this continent.

What is this impact?

Firstly, the impact is psychological. Back in 1963 Waterford Kamhlaba was the first non-racial school  in southern Africa. Contrary to the dictates of Apartheid education, contrary to the practice of colonial education, here was a school where people could come and learn together, irrespective of their colour or creed. And from the very beginning the founder of Waterford Kamhlaba, Michael Stern, asserted that admission would be on merit, not based on the students’ parents’ ability to pay the full fees. Education based on separation of people according to their colour, creed and financial background was shown not to be a “necessary” arrangement. Since 1963 thousands of young people have graduated from Waterford Kamhlaba UWC, some thousands more young Africans have graduated from other UWCs, each with the experienced reality that no one is inferior or indeed superior based on these external measures.

Each of us goes forward into a wider world with that deep experience that we and our neighbours around the world are “human”, each UWC graduate with a full set of human opportunities and responsibilities. This self-awareness and appropriate self confidence has had a profound impact on society: firstly to society dominated by the false ideology of Apartheid (in South Africa) and even longer by colonialism – living examples that the claims of these ideological and exploitative arrangements are based on a lie – and more recently to society with uncertain hope in the growing wellbeing of democratic, non-racial society.Secondly, the graduates of Waterford Kamhlaba UWC and other UWCs either based in or in relationship with Africa have a profound connectedness – and not only of the internet variety. They have shared friendships, rooms, corridors, common rooms, classrooms, activities, services, meals, hopes and fears… They have shared these with people from across the continent and from around the world. In a continent where national identity is so defined by our colonial pasts (after all, our very national borders were drawn up in 1836 in Berlin), even in post-colonial Africa our intra-continental links and structures remain weak. From government to education to commerce, it is of incalculable value that there is a growing cohort of young (and now not-so-young) graduates who have close ties and shared experiences that transcend these national, ethnic, religious and economic backgrounds.

And that these graduates have a shared background where attitudes such as “service”, “working for a better world”, “seeing the world through the eyes of others” have been part of their educational foundation makes the possibilities arising from this connectedness so much stronger. It is a connectedness not focused primarily on a desire for commercial exploitation and personal wealth.

Thirdly, the graduates of Waterford Kamhlaba UWC and other UWCs based in Africa have had the  superb opportunity of developing their intellect, skills and leadership capacity to a world-class level, both at UWC and then through opportunities for further study. In a continent where high-level skills are in relatively short supply, our graduates have and exercise profound capacity and responsibility to strengthen governance, civil society, commerce and industry, medical and educational provision throughout Africa.

The UWC mission speaks of UWC making an education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. Meeting Waterford Kamhlaba UWC and other UWC graduates around the continent, I am confident their UWC educational experience continues in increasing measure to have a positive impact on society in general and on Africa as a whole.

Note: This article was written for Waterford Kamhlaba’s inaugural UWC Africa Week in 2015


There are three modes of entry into Waterford Kamhlaba:

  • direct application to the school
  • via a UWC national committee
  • through internal application of students currently in Form 5 IGCSE. Progression from Form 5 to  the IBDP year  is not automatic

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