Address by the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor MP, at the 140 th birthday celebrations of the Inanda Seminary, Durban.
7 March 2009
Deputy President Mbete MP
Chairperson and Members of the Board of Governors of Inanda Seminary
Old Girls of Inanda Seminary
The Headmistress, Ms JAT Tate and Staff
Parents, learners and members of the community of Inanda
I’m honoured and delighted to be part of this significant occasion.
Occasions of this nature help to remind us of the long tradition of educational excellence in KwaZulu-Natal.
Congratulations to Inanda Seminary - and all those associated with this great institution - for its contribution to the education of so many young women over its long history.
From its early beginnings and facing many adversities, the school survived and triumphed over attempts to destroy it. It even survived apartheid.
Inanda entered in the twenty-first century well placed to continue to promote academic excellence in an environment of positive values.
Therefore, it’s fitting to pay tribute to the founders of Inanda Seminary, Reverend Daniel Lindley and his wife Lucy.
Little did they know what an excellent school they were starting when they opened the gates of Inanda Seminary boarding school in 1869.
The aim was to provide young women with opportunities through education.
While the context has changed and the expectations of young women have definitely changed, the school has continued to provide opportunities to girls and to give them the chance “to shine where you are”.
Inanda Seminary is renowned for teaching young women how to be leaders.
I’m told that over 8,000 young women have passed through the gates of this institution and many of them have gone on to great things.
On this anniversary day, it is useful to reflect and remind ourselves of what has made Inanda great.
In a few words: commitment to excellence. For education, and indeed education institutions to succeed, they need commitment – the kind of commitment that is exhibited so clearly at Inanda. I am referring to the shared commitment that exists between all roleplayers and stakeholders in the institution.
Moreover, the early and current history of Inanda Seminary shows that little can be achieved in education without partnerships.
Inanda Seminary is a product of partnerships between the church, as represented by the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, government, teachers, the private sector, parents, learners and a vibrant Alumni Association which continues to marshal the efforts of the Old and not so Old Girls for the progressive development of Inanda Seminary.
I congratulate the school community for working so hard to raise a loan from the Development Bank of Southern Africa to rebuild the Edwards Hall that will be reopened today – a fitting memory to a dedicated educator.
I should also like to recognize the service to education of Mr Dumi Cecil Zondi who was not only the first South African but also the first black male to head the institution.
I’m told that Mr Zondi is still in service at the school - as the archivist. Only now at venerable age of eighty will he be allowed to retire. Mr Zondi is an outstanding, dedicated educator and friend of the institution.
It’s heartening to note how full the academic calendar of Inanda Seminary is, and to see how Inanda recognises our history and those who sacrificed so much to bring about democracy.
I’m pleased to see how much importance the school places on environmental awareness.
I’ve noted the school’s suggestion for gifts to the Seminary to honour the 140th anniversary! Even some of those are environmentally friendly! I’m of course referring to the recycled plastic benches. I trust that many will be purchased.
Over the years, I have met many Inanda Girls.
One of the things that I’ve found remarkable is the strong bonds that link former students together.
Inanda was, and I hope remains, a meeting ground for girls of all backgrounds from many parts of the country. Through their years together at Inanda they have forged friendships and loyalties to each other and the school.
In closing, I want to say something about the future.
The school was saved through the intervention of the alumni – they used their initiative and resourcefulness and powers of persuasion to get the United Congregational Church of South Africa to take over the running of the school.
They then generated financial support through the assistance of former President Mandela who was able to secure funding from Sappi to renovate the buildings and establish a maintenance trust.
Their example led other alumni to continue to support the school.
Moreover, the school is now part of the Historic Schools Restoration Project. It is part of the pilot project involving 6 schools: Adams College, Healdtown, Inanda Seminary, Lemana, St Matthews, and Tiger Kloof.
The Historic Schools Restoration Project aims to foster African leadership and to transform the 50 or so schools under its remit into institutions of educational and cultural excellence.
It aims to foster excellence in teaching and learning. It aims to encourage ownership of the project by school communities. And it aims to forge partnerships between the schools, the HSRP, government, NGOs, churches and business institutions.
It aims to promote African culture, language and values, to build moral character and leadership skills, to develop strategies for financial sustainability and ensure that schools develop sound institutional leadership and management.
While the initial focus is on raising funds for infrastructure, it is a “legacy” project. One of the characteristics of legacy projects is that they look to the future.
So the historic schools project is not only about recovering what was lost. It is also about building something new for the future.
And the novelty will lie in the model of finance and governance that it pioneers.
Finance is a major issue for all schools, whether they are public or independent like Inanda. Independent schools that qualify for a state subsidy are allocated a subsidy level based on the ratio of fees charged by the school to the average provincial expenditure per learner.
The balance for operational costs in both public and independent schools is raised from donors, fees and other income-generating activities.
The case has been put to us that the level of independent-schools subsidy, even at the highest level of 60%, is too low.
This is particularly the case for independent schools serving poor communities that have poor facilities and limited access to private sources of funding to finance infrastructure development.
The department is exploring the development of new models that will allow for sustainable support to schools such as this one.
Happy 140 th birthday to Inanda