Percy Mdala High School was opened in 1990 and over years has produced many fine scholars and a well respected reputation. At present they have and enrollment of 1200 learners drawn from the Knysna and surrounding areas, and as far a field as the Transkei.
They are from previously underprivileged communities with many of them living in squatter homes. The school is likened to an oasis as the Percy Mdala offer quality tuition in a brick building but unfortunately too small because their reputation as 'one of the best' has attracted students from far afield.
School fees are R150.00 per annum, a mere drop in the ocean compared to the other schools in Knysna, but unfortunately, the parents of a large number of children cannot afford even that. The school always welcomes sponsors to help with school fees and the education needs of the poorer students.
Mr. Percy Mdala came to Knysna in 1956 and worked for Bishop Stainton, then rector of St George's church. The Bishop recognised that he was an educated man and suggested that he teach at the school which served a very wide area west of Knysna, St Paul's Caradoc.
This school, situated in the church Hall at Salt River, was given much assistance, particularly financial, by the Anglican Church. Mr. T.Z. Ganga encouraged him to apply for a teaching post at a school with 20-25 pupils run by Miss Nzuzu, who came from Cape Town.
Percy Mdala took over the running of the school, assisted by Mr. Ganga. They recruited Mrs. Ngethe and Messrs Soya and Hoya to assist them, going from house to house collecting children to attend the school.
On rainy days Mr. Mdala had serious problems, one of which was that he had to meet his pupils literally half way, as they had a river to cross. He would meet them at the river and carry them across, repeating the process in the afternoon.
Under his leadership the school was recognized by the Government. The local residents of Knysna made generous financial contributions as well as gifts of books. The greatest individual benefactors were Mr. and Mrs. J.D.M. Philip. As the school had no official name at that time, it was known to some as the Philips Lower Primary School.
The staff was increased by Miss Mancushe who came from the Transkei. Mr. Mdala was seen by the blacks in Knysna as a symbol of lasting hope and he is said to be the pioneer of Black Education in Knysna.
The tragedy was that this was the time when people were being removed from areas where they had lived for many years because of their skin colour. The 'coloured' as well as the Black people were no longer allowed to live in that area and because of this Government action the school closed down as there were no longer any pupils in its vicinity.