“I would choose Westville again because it helped develop me into who I am today, “says actuary and Old Boy Asil Motala.

By Aydn Parrott

“Show respect to everyone, regardless of who they are. Everyone is deserving of respect, regardless of title, profession or background,” this is the biggest lesson Asil Motala learned from his time at Westville Boys’ High School.

The Old Boy of 2013 who currently works as a pricing actuary at SwissRe, one of the world’s leading providers of insurance, interacted with many different people while at school.

He was a student leader, as well as Head of the Academic Support Task Team and Deputy Head of the IT Task team.  During his time at WBHS, he participated in a variety of Academic Olympiads and Public Speaking Competitions, as well as playing volleyball.

However, his fondest memories relate to his matric year, and the leadership program and camps, Asil says. During that year (2013), he feels he really connected with the rest of his year, and learnt a lot from fellow students and peers.

Asil says he chose Westville because of its reputation as a school of excellence.  The school’s academic, cultural and sport prowess combined with its facilities and dedicated staff made it an attractive school of choice.

Furthermore, his brother had been a learner at WBHS and he was a huge inspiration to Asil.

Asil says his brother’s decisions had a huge influence on shaping his own.  “I would choose Westville again because it helped develop me into who I am today, “ Asil says. He explains that it taught him to challenge himself, and continually try to do better. “WBHS helped me to develop my work ethic and integrity,” Asil says.

In 2013, Minister of Education, Angie Motshekga, presided over a Department of Education National Awards function at which Asil’s average mark of 98% placed him as the top candidate in the country as his average was significantly higher than those of the top ranked pupils in other quintiles.

Then Headmaster Trevor Hall paid tribute to Asil’s exceptional achievement.  He said, “Throughout his high school career, Asil has been a model pupil.”

Trevor Hall said Asil’s,  “conscientious approach and ability to deal with academic pressure never faltered, but it is his insight, intuition and ability to deal with advanced concepts that gave him the edge in many of his subjects.”

Asil, who was also named Dux in 2013, says that WBHS gave him a strong academic foundation that aided him in his success at University, while ensuring he was also all-rounded and balanced.

“Trying new things, “is one thing Asil encourages new learners to do.

He says school is a great place and time to try and develop new skills and learn from others.

“Don’t be afraid of making mistakes,” Asil counsels.  He refers to one of his favourite quotes which says, “A done something is better than a perfect nothing.”  Asil adds that while academics are important, life is more than just book learning, “you can learn a lot from experiences, as well as from your fellow peers and teachers.”

Resilience is at the heart of Westville Boys’ High School’s values. Staying the course and nurturing emotionally intelligent students with skills and confidence to adapt to change.

Little wonder then that Asil has found himself working at Swiss Re which sees itself as working to make the world more resilient, creating new opportunities and solutions.

To those struggling under the effects of the pandemic he says, “everyone is struggling. We are currently in difficult times, facing a global health and economic crisis that most of us have probably not experienced before.”

Asil says the impact of the pandemic will be felt for years to come.

“However, we are resilient. We have experienced similar pandemics before, and we may again in future.”

To members of the school community Asil says, “all we can do is keep trying our best, try to do whatever we can to help others, and stay hopeful.”

He explains that help can vary, from helping with donations to charities, to simply staying at home and helping limit the spread of COVID-19.

Asil Motala