President Jacob Zuma, at the Opening of the revitalization redevelopment and repositioning of Adams College, Amanzimtoti

President Jacob Zuma

Durban, 28 September 2017

Former AU Commission Chair, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

Inkatha Freedom Party President, Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi

HOD of Education in KwaZulu-Natal

Officials from the national and provincial Departments of Education

Ambassador Young

Project Manager, Mr Thulasizwe Makhanya,

Adams College Principal, Mr Khumalo and other Principals, Teachers and Learners

Uncle Ali of the Horizon Education Trust

Distinguished alumni of the schools


Ladies and Gentlemen, 

It is with a great sense of honour and pride that I am afforded the opportunity to be with you at this auspicious occasion as we celebrate the revitalization of these two historically significant and rich educational institutions, Adams College and Ohlange Institute. 

In many ways these schools have played a pivotal role in shaping the minds of some of the greatest leaders this country has ever seen, and most importantly those who have founded and have been Presidents of the African National Congress.

These institutions boast great leaders who studied here. 

Adams College was established in 1853 as the first school in KwaZulu-Natal for Africans. 

It was one of the first schools in the country for black learners, in-fact it is the second oldest educational establishment for black learners in the country. 

Not only is Adams College the only school in South Africa to have produced four African National Congress (ANC) Presidents; Dr Langalibalele Dube, Mr J.T Gumede, Dr Prixley kaIsaka Seme and Chief Albert Luthuli, but the school has also produced many other well-known and successful African leaders who have made significant contributions on the African continent: 

These include Dr John Mavuna Nembula, the first black medical practitioner in Southern Africa, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (former AU Commission Chairperson), Prof Eskia Mphahlele, Prof Mazisi Kunene, Mr Govan and Mrs Epainette Mbeki, Mama Ellen Khuzwayo and many more. 

Adams College is not only an institution of excellence but it is an institution of Presidents and holds many firsts.

 It was also an institution that was ahead of its time as it recognized the potential of the girl child as early as 1910 and became the first institution to introduce co-education, or the education of pupils of both sexes. 

In 1931 it was the first to offer matriculation courses to black learners. 

It produced the first two black Attorney Generals of African States, Hebert Chitepo of Zimbabwe and Charles Njonjo of Kenya. 

The school was the first to teach Mathematics and Science to African learners when others denied them this right.

It produced the first black Chief Justice of this country, Justice Pius Langa. 

In 1922 Inkosi Albert Luthuli became the first African to be employed on the teaching staff at Adams College, teaching isiZulu and Music and later being put in charge of the school organization. 

In 1925 Dr. Z.K. Matthews was the first African to be appointed head of the High school with white staff under him, a remarkable achievement for an African at that time. 

The calibre of men and women who have walked through these doors is overwhelming. 

Among the list of prominent names, Adams College has produced include Dr John Langalibalele Dube, the first President of the ANC but also founder of Ohlange Institute. 

Dr Dube schooled at Adams College, which, noticing his immense potential, encouraged him to head to the US. 

Years later, Dr J.L. Dube, inspired by African American intellectual Booker T Washington, went on and established the Ohlange Institute, modelling it after Tuskegee University, and emphasizing on developing self-reliance in its students. 

Apart from being well educated,   Dube was an essayist, philosopher, educator, politician, publisher, novelist, and a poet, highly motivated and successful. 

Both the Ohlange Institute and Adams College have provided Black African learners with the opportunity to gain access to an excellent standard of education, one that we aim to give to every African child today. 

Ladies and gentlemen 

The Revitalisation, Redevelopment and Repositioning (3R Project) of these historic institutions has been a vitally important project, supported and embraced by all levels of Government, business and former students. 

Adams College and Ohlange Institute are clearly two schools of utmost importance in our history.

It is crucial that we preserve their legacy and heritage, as well as create activities to positively influence the current and future generation of learners.

Both these institutions have established Trusts to oversee and manage the intended development.

Adams College Development Trust is chaired by a former student, Prof Sihawukele Ngubane and the Ohlange Institute Development Trust is headed by a former student Judge Thabani Jali Both these entities accommodate the school principals and chairpersons of the School Governing Bodies. 

Ladies and Gentlemen 

It is an absolute pleasure to see the work that has been done at this school in order to restore it to its rightful place as an institute of excellence on the African continent. 

Today we have opened a brand new block of classrooms as well as a library. I am also pleased to see that construction is underway for a Museum and Interpretation Centre as well as a house for the principal. 

It will be impossible for learners who attend this school to not be inspired as they are able to walk in the footsteps of the great men and women who came before them, as they walk through a Memorial Garden consisting of Walk of Fame and Hall of Fame. 

These schools are also an important beacon of social cohesion and strengthening ties with our brothers and sisters on the African continent.

Today we are also celebrating the fact that Adams College and Ohlange High School will be reconnecting with all the International institutions and individuals that are associated with them. 

It is important to know our past so that we can move forward as a country with pride in ourselves, but also to ensure we do not repeat our past mistakes.

We need to preserve and celebrate places like this to remind ourselves of where we come from, that even in the darkest days of colonialism and apartheid there were beacons of excellence that fought against apartheid oppression and delivered the democratic country we are so proud to behold today.

We have come a long way since those dark days; today all South African children have the right to study Mathematics and Science in schools.

Great strides have been made to ensure access and improve the quality of education for all African children. 

It is truly heart-warming to note and be able to share with you how far we have come from a situation where just a handful of schools offered quality education to black children, to where we are today. 

Last year saw the highest number of learners complete school in the history of South Africa with a 72% pass rate, with the majority of those being black Africans.

This cohort of matriculants also achieved more Bachelor passes and more distinctions than ever before, meaning that we are seeing overall improvements in the quality of the passes that learners are achieving. 

This is another achievement worth celebrating. What is even more encouraging is the excellent performance of township schools.

 Ladies and gentlemen 

By far, most of the improvements seen in the 2016 results have been amongst black-African learners. 

For instance, the increase of 1 709 between 2015 and 2016 with respect to all learners achieving a mark of 60% or more in Mathematics, becomes an increase of 1 308, if one considers black-African learners only. 

These trends thus point to a narrowing of the serious racial inequalities in schools.

It is moreover important to note that historically black-African schools currently account for around two-thirds of black-African learners, who achieved a mark of 60% or more in Mathematics. 

Township and rural schools are making important contributions, and these are in fact, the schools which have shown the largest improvements in recent history.

In the past Bachelor passes tended to be concentrated in former white schools, and were sometimes used as a measure of the inequalities in the schooling system and society in general. 

We however, in recent years have observed a remarkable shift towards greater equity; our former black and township schools are now in many cases competing with former white schools, but inequalities still persist. 

In 2005 for instance, as many as 60% of Bachelor passes, then also called “endorsements”, came from the 20% of the schooling system that was dominated by former white schools. 

By 2015, this 20% of the schooling system was only producing just 49% of the Bachelor passes. 

In other words, the remaining 80% of the schooling system, our former black schools, accounted for a larger proportion of all learners deemed ready to access a University. Also, university readiness had become more equitably spread by 2015. 

This did not happen by accident, it is the result of the consistent effort and emphasis the ANC-led Government has put on ensuring that all of our children, regardless of colour or origin, have access to quality basic education.

The ANC Government has instituted a pro-poor education system, which sees the poorest schools receiving a larger portion of the resources than more advantaged schools. 

We are seeing the fruits of our labour and the decisions taken by the ANC Government to make education a priority bearing fruit.

It is important to explain the significance of the poverty ranking of schools. 

Quintile 1 to 3 schools, also known as “no fee” schools, are schools that previously faced a multiplicity of challenges, ranging from resource inadequacies to socio-economic challenges, including environments in which these schools find themselves.

Teachers and principals have to invest a lot of energy to do more with less, thus to see these schools turning a corner on this scale is extremely encouraging.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Taking its cue from the great forefathers of our nation like Dr J.L Dube, we will continue to prioritise education and ensure that the upwards trends we are seeing in terms of the transformation of the education system will continue under an ANC led Government. 

It is through institutions like the ones we are celebrating today, that we are able to achieve what we have as a country and ensured that every South African child has the access to a good quality education only a select few had before. 

I thank you.


Issued by The Presidency