Unity High School is an international recognized school located in the heart of Khartoum, Sudan. The school can trace back its origins to 1902. It was originally founded by the Coptic community and began life as an all girl school.
The idea of educating girls was a new concept in Sudan and not all were in agreement.
However through the permission of Coptic Church in Egypt and the assistance of the founder of the school Bishop Llewellyn Henry Gwynne the school was opened. They found an upper room to locate the new school and brought a teacher from Lebanon to educate the children.
In 1904 Miss Bewley then arrived at the school from Cairo and oversaw its reorganization. She implemented changes which greatly enhanced the schoolâ€™s reputation. It also won many prizes for needlework and embroidery at the annual exhibitions held in Khartoum. At this time a number of dignitaries visited the school, these included; the Grand Mufti of Cairo, Princess Beatrice of Coburg, the Duke and Duchess of Connaught and Lady Wingate to name but a few.
The school was growing both academic excellence and popularity so it seemed fitting that it should have its own building. The task was undertaken by Sergeant Seabright, (whose commemorative plaque for his baby is still in the main hall today.) and in 1905 he delivered the main building of the school which is still used to this day.
In 1910 the school formed close ties with Gordon College, who provided external examiners for the school. In 1913 Miss Bewley, the highly respected headteacher resigned her post and left Unity following her marriage to Arnold Foster. She still though remained in close contact with the school.
Staff were usually drawn from Beirut, Cairo or Bethlehem, but the school once again led the way in innovation by encouraging those pupils who had finished their education to return as teachers. In 1915 the first classes taught by teachers, who were ex-pupils, took place.
There then followed of unsettled times for Sudan which the school continued to operate in educating a new generation of Sudanese females.
In 1927 plans were then made for the creation of a high school, under the aegis of the four expatriate communities of Greek, Armenian, Syrian and Coptic. The leading Christian merchants donated money to enable the school to start on a sound financial footing and the community took great interest in the new venture.
In 1928 the High School opened based on an English secondary school. A new range of subjects were introduced including History and Geography. All the textbooks had to be sent from England as there were no Sudanese ones printed at this time. A Guide Company was also formed at the school highlighting how the different nationalities had bonded together. The school was most definitely living by its name.
By the mid 1930 the school was providing a steady stream of employees for Government Departments in Sudan as well as teachers for other schools which had emerged in the area. Competitive school matches also emerged on the calendar for the first time.
In 1937 the school forged ties with the Cambridge examining board of which it still uses today for its IGCSE qualifications. As a result of this the school was able to offer a qualification which was recognized by universities in England.
After World War Two the school continued to thrive and become the place for females to be educated. Girls from Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda all came to further their learning. By 1949 there were nine different nationalities at the school with the Sudanese girls forming the majority for the first time.
Another first in 1949 came when Fatma Talib became the first Sudanese female to take her medical degree in England. She was the only female that year to be accepted to Gordon College, at that time affiliated to the University of London. She went on to become the first Sudanese woman to hold a degree.
During the 1960s the school had a swimming pool built on the grounds (the science block currently occupies this area) it was a personal gift from a benefactor of the school, Mr. R. Keymer. He had previously donated the funds for the first laboratory to be built. It also had close for a brief period during October 1964 when the Military Government was overthrown and rioting occurred in Khartoum, but soon re-opened when the problems had subsided.