Info For Parents
‘We should be proud of what was and what is and we should never forget where it all came from.’
– Mr Eddie Conradie
As we all know, the Curro we love today didn’t just magically appear overnight. It took blood, sweat and sometimes a few tears and all began with four founders who had a vision – a vision of quality independent school education.
One of the founders is of course Mr Eddie Conradie, or ‘Oom Eddie’ as he has come to be known. Oom Eddie’s journey with Curro started in 1998 when, as a school inspector at the Western Cape Department of Education, he was tasked with helping to register Curro as a new independent school. Little did anyone know that the current founders were his friends and that he himself was interested in joining Curro! ‘If they were to know at the time, ooh …’, *says Oom Eddie.
Oom Eddie had quite a full life even before embarking on the Curro journey. ‘I matriculated from Vredenburg High School in 1996, did my national service in the Navy and went on to study at the then Wellington Teachers’ College and later Stellenbosch University.’ In 1976 he started his teaching career at Durbanville Primary School and gradually worked his way up to principal as well as school inspector in the Bellville area. It was at the end of 1998 that he took the massive leap of faith and resigned to join his friends in opening Curro, and in 1999 he walked into a Curro classroom as Grade 6 teacher; admitting that he was terrified.
‘I was 47 years old and hadn’t taught in 10 years. I had to start from scratch; with a small shop next to a 7 Eleven as my classroom. My colleagues in the education sector thought I had lost my marbles and my parents were also extremely upset, but together with my co-founders, I just had to take the chance.’ Oom Eddie explains that having to start from the beginning was the biggest challenge for him and his family. The starting salary was small, which meant they had to delve into his less-than-generous retirement package. There was also no guarantee that the school would succeed! ‘My path at Curro was not always easy. The early years had many challenges and my wife and kids also had to sacrifice a lot. But the Heavenly Father guided us and therefore, if I had to, I would choose to walk the same path.’
For Oom Eddie there are many highlights of his time at Curro, too many to be able to mention them all. The official opening of the first school building in January 2000 and Curro listing on the JSE in 2011 are definitely among the top ten. For him, the ultimate highlight is his role as marketing manager, a position he held from 2008 until his retirement eight years later. His biggest task was first and foremost to market Curro as a business as well as to market new schools in such a way before their opening that there would be enough enrolments for success. ‘This was indeed a very big challenge and responsibility that opened up a whole new world in which I had to master the concept of marketing very quickly.’ Luckily Oom Eddie eventually had a great team to support him. One of the perks of his job was being able to travel across the country, meeting new people, and experiencing new things. ‘If I now look back over all the schools of which I witnessed the opening and I see how they have grown and developed, I feel truly grateful and proud.’
What has Oom Eddie been up to since he left Curro? Well, he hasn’t really left. ‘After my retirement I became involved with Curro again in 2017 through the Curro 20-year celebration book. I am also involved in the Curro Alumni project, which keeps me quite busy.’ Oom Eddie is also connected to the Curro family trough his son, also Eddie Conradie. He is currently the Executive Head at Curro Langebaan. Oom Eddie met his wife Estie at college and they have been living in their house in Durbanville for 41 years, where they love spending time with friends as well as their six grandchildren. They also love to travel and head overseas every year for a vacation – which they definitely deserve after helping to build Curro from the ground up.
Oom Eddie is sure that there will always be a place for independent school education in South Africa. Curro started as a tiny school and steadily grew to become the market leader in independent school education. ‘The smaller class sizes, guaranteed quality education, positive discipline and the IEB matric exam make Curro a winner!’ For Oom Eddie, if you can dream it, you can do it and if an opportunity presents itself, grab it with both hands. ‘In our case we took a chance and just jumped, the rest is history. We should be proud of what was and what is and we should never forget where it all came from.’ Curro has certainly come a long way!
*Direct quotes have been translated.