Arts Education Project

About the De Beers English Olympiad

The De Beers English Olympiad is a national English competition that draws more than 5500 entries each year. The competition is organized jointly by the Grahamstown Foundation and the South African Council for English Education.

The primary objectives of the De Beers English Olympiad are:

The syllabus and examination questions offer stimulation not found within the school syllabus. They call for acute critical ability and sharp writing skills, but they also seek to draw out creative thinking and writing – aptitudes so central to our humanness. Many learners get too little opportunity for such self-expression in the normal school routine, and are searching for a stimulus to this creativity. The syllabus and examination also cause learners to explore the relevance of literature to themselves and the world around them. Those candidates who are prepared to take a risk and answer the more challenging questions in an unusual and creative way, are usually the candidates who end up excelling. The value of the Olympiad extends far beyond the actual writing of the examination. The De Beers English Olympiad is distinctive in that, unlike other Olympiad’s it requires learners to study a prescribed text. This sets in motion a valuable learning process. English teachers set up study groups to examine the text and this leads to the exploration of a whole range of related ideas and theories.
Each year a new anthology and theme is compiled by SACEE and the examination is based on this theme and anthology.
The competition is open to all learners in grade 10, 11 and 12. Entries are only accepted through schools. As the examination is based on an open-book system, every candidate is required to purchase a copy of the text. (For more information about the theme, entry fees, etc, please contact the Olympiad Officer.)

What are the rewards?

During June, the names of the top 100 and top 15 achievers are sent to schools. There are a number of wonderful prizes awarded to the Top 50 candidates.


The Grahamstown Foundation and SACEE warmly thank the sponsors for their generous support. Without them this Olympiad would not be possible: