William Smith (South African)

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William Smith is South Africa's best-known and most popular television science and mathematics teacher.

Early life and education[edit]

Smith was born in Grahamstown.

The coelacanth "living fossil" was discovered by Smith's father, Professor J. L. B. Smith, a renowned ichthyologist.

He attended St. Andrew's Prep before matriculating at Union High School in Graaff-Reinet. He then went on to study at Rhodes University, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and chemistry, followed by an honours degree (cum laude) in chemistry at the same institution. Following that, he obtained a masters degree from the University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg campus) in only seven months.

Deciding that he would rather pursue a teaching career, Smith left industry and moved to the education sector, where he started 'Star Schools' - the aim of these schools are to provide value for money education with top-class teachers. During the next 25 years, he became famous throughout South Africa, where his schools have taught almost a million pupils of all races. Smith also won the 'Teacher of the Year' award.

In 1990, Smith began producing The Learning Channel educational television programmes with the financial backing of Hylton Appelbaum, then executive director of the Liberty Life Foundation. As a result of his work on this programme, Smith was voted as one of the top three presenters on South African television in 1998.

Other achievements[edit]

Smith is also a renowned conservationist and owns the Featherbed Nature Reserve in Knysna, where he currently (2004) lives. He is also the owner of 'Rivercat Ferries', which has several craft that cruise in the Knysna lagoon and out to sea.

He is also a co-presenter, with Jeremy Mansfield, of the popular South African television quiz show, A Word or 2. Smith was also a judge for the Miss South Africa Pageant in 1998 and 1999.

Smith was voted 86th in the Top 100 Great South Africans in 2004.