Dorothea Pitt (affectionately known as Dodo) was born in Pretoria in 1925. Her father, Thomas Becklake, was a top-ranking British civil servant and Director of the South African Mint. Dodo attended Pretoria Girls’ High School, and read English at Wits University. During the War, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, and was promoted to Air Corporal, carrying out research on the effects of decompression chambers on air crews.
Dodo had a long and successful teaching career, first at Chisipite School in Harare, and then as English teacher and headmistress of St. Mary’s School in Johannesburg, where she was highly regarded by colleagues and pupils. After the Soweto uprising in 1976 she employed black teachers and admitted black pupils, risking the closure of the school in defiance of apartheid laws. One of her former pupils is quoted as saying: ‘She encouraged us to be fearless and adventurous, and develop our self-confidence in our own identity … Almost two decades before our country obtained democracy and liberation, Mrs Pitt had already started liberating the minds of many a South African.’ Later she was invited to become the first Director of the multi-racial Independent Examinations Board.
In retirement, Dodo remained active, producing curriculum material and teaching knitting and reading, as well as spending time with her five children and twelve grandchildren. Throughout her life she was a staunch believer in the importance of an integrated and diverse education system to support the needs of all South Africans.
The Dodo Pitt Education Fund has been set up by her family in her memory. All donations made to this fund will go towards helping disadvantaged girls and young women in South Africa have access to educational opportunities. To begin with, the Fund will sponsor a pupil through high school, focusing on an individual who would otherwise not be able to afford to go to school, and thus improving their life chances. All schools are fee paying in South Africa, even Government ones. The Fund will sponsor a girl through schooling at Pretoria High School for Girl’s, the school Dodo and her sister enjoyed attending.
To make your donation, please go to: www.justgiving.com/dodo or
By cheque: Please make your cheque payable to “Africa Educational Trust” and post to Africa Educational Trust, 18 Hand Court, London WC1V 6JV with a letter specifying its purpose.
Gift Aid: Using Gift Aid means that for every pound you give, we get an extra 25p from the Inland Revenue, helping your donation go even further. All you need to do is print out the standard Gift Aid Form and return it with your donation by post or e-mail.