Dan Pienaar - Northern Free State's Educational Gem

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

The tranquil and upmarket Bloemfontein suburb of Dan Pienaar in the Northern Free State is centrally situated less than 15km from the airport. The neighbourhood not only offers some of the most sought after property in the province but also boasts some of the finest education facilities in the country.

Living close to good schools is a bonus for busy parents who want easy access to the best education they can afford for their children. It is also a great way to ensure that property retains its value. As the theologian William Channing once said, “It is a greater work to educate a child, in the true and larger sense of the word, than to rule a state”. A good education is more than a luxury; it is a responsibility society owes itself.

This leafy, well-established suburb is home to two of the oldest and most prestigious educational facilities in the country, Grey College and St Andrew’s School. Grey College was founded on 13th October 1855, when Sir George Grey donated a substantial sum of money in order to establish a higher educational facility in the then Orange Free State. Officially opened on the 17th January 1859, the school has gone on to educate some of the finest minds in the country and has produced many revered sportsmen.

The gracious school grounds house a number of historic buildings, five of which have been declared National Monuments. Grey College has educated the likes of Steve Hofmeyr, Ollie Le Roux and Ryk Neethling. With a recognised handshake and camaraderie reminiscent of the film Dead Poets Society, an “old boys” reunion is held at the school on the 13th October each year. Former South African cricket captain, Hansie Cronje was educated at Grey College and after his death in a plane crash on 1st June 2002; his ashes were taken the school, where they have remained.

St Andrew’s or Saints as it is affectionately known as today was founded in November 1863 by Bishop Edward Twells. Initially called Diocesan Grammar School, it was renamed in 1874. Originally a private school controlled by a board of governors, the school was sold to the provincial administration in 1976 on condition that it could retain its Anglican ties. The Bishop of Bloemfontein maintains a seat on the school's governing body to this day.

Colin Hickling, mayor of Bloemfontein in 1957, was educated at St Andrew’s, as was Christian Ashley Botha, who went on to become the director of music for the Drakensberg Boys' Choir in 1980, a position he held until his retirement in 2006. Michael Crawford, one of South Africa’s major property developers and a director of property development giants Grinaker, is also an alumnus.

With elite educational establishments on the doorstep, it goes without saying that demand for property in the area has remained stable. According to recent statistics released by Lightstone, a total of 161 transfers have taken place in the last 12 months. The average price paid for a freehold property in the area was R1.373m and the sectional title average came in at R1.079m. The highest price paid was R3.650m for a freehold property. The statistics indicate that price averages in Dan Pienaar have grown steadily since 2004. The rand value in terms of registered transactions thus far in 2011 totals just over R148m.

It seems fairly obvious that the fact that this suburb is surrounded by some of the best known schools in South Africa has played a role in the impressive property statistics. When asked how much educated men were superior to those uneducated, the philosopher Aristotle answered, “as much as the living are to the dead”.

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