Sultan Abdul Hamid College was founded in 1908 by Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah, the 26th Sultan of Kedah. The school was initially set up to provide education for the sons of the Kedah royal family, but it later became a public school that was open to all students. Over the years, the school has produced many prominent alumni, including politicians, businessmen, and academics.
In 1947, a group of former students of Sultan Abdul Hamid College decided to establish an alumni association to maintain ties with their alma mater and to promote fellowship among themselves. The association was officially registered as a society in 1953, and it was named the Sultan Abdul Hamid Old Collegians Association (SAHOCA).
Since its establishment, SAHOCA has been actively involved in organizing various activities and programs to benefit its members and the community. Some of its notable initiatives include providing scholarships to deserving students, organizing sports events and cultural activities, and supporting charitable causes.
SAHOCA has also played an important role in promoting education and academic excellence. In 1998, the association established the SAHOCA Education Fund to provide financial assistance to students who excel academically but face financial difficulties. The fund has since provided scholarships and study loans to many students, helping them to achieve their academic goals.
Over the years, SAHOCA has grown to become one of the largest and most active alumni associations in Malaysia. The organization has chapters in various parts of the country, as well as overseas, and it continues to serve as a platform for former students of Sultan Abdul Hamid College to connect, share their experiences, and contribute to society
In 1908, before Kedah came under British protection, the state’s government appointed Mohamad bin Iskandar, a senior teacher at the Penang Free School and the father of Mahathir Mohamad (fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia), as the first headmaster of the “Government English School” (GES), which was the state’s first English school.
The school was housed in a wooden building between the Alor Setar High Court building (now known as Galeria Sultan Abdul Halim) and the Balai Nobat facing the junction of Jalan Baru (now known as Jalan Putera). The small building, which could accommodate no more than 50 pupils, had previously been the office of Chief Minister Wan Md Saman, who was instrumental in the construction of the Wan Md. Saman canal.
In 1910, Mohamad bin Iskandar resigned and returned to the Penang Free School leaving the G.E.S. in the hands of Md. Salleh. Ismail Merican, another Senior Assistant Master at the Penang Free School, was appointed Headmaster the following year. The student body had grown to 97, more than the building could accommodate, so some classes had to be held in the open air.
In 1911 the school moved to a private house in Jalan Penjara Lama. Here also the accommodation was insufficient for the number of pupils, who occupied cubicles in the small, dark rooms, with many seated on the floor.
By 1912 there were 160 boys enrolled. The school expanded its teaching staff, and now taught up to Standard Four. The shortages of accommodation and trained staff made teaching to a higher standard impossible, so that when pupils had attained Standard Four they enrolled in either the Penang Free School or the Malay College, or sought employment. The majority preferred to work since they could find good jobs with a Standard Four qualification.
For the site of the present building, Che Md. Ariffin (Secretary to the Government), and Che Ismail Merican (Headmaster of the school) selected an area of about 30 acres (120,000 m2) at Tanjung Bendahara. Construction, which began in 1915, was completed in late 1916.
The building consisted of a two-storied structure in the centre with two classrooms on each side. Provision was made for future expansion, allowing adequate space for playing fields and more classrooms to accommodate over a thousand pupils.
The school was formally declared open on January 1, 1917, and E.A.G. Stuart, who was the headmaster and also Superintendent of Education, had his office in the central building. By 1917 there were 223 on the roll with a staff of eleven including the Headmaster. There were trained teachers, and Stuart trained the others himself, as teacher training had not yet started in Kedah.
Stuart had the task of running two rapidly growing establishments at the same time. By 1923 he was finding it difficult to cope alone, so E.C. Hicks was appointed as his assistant. By 1926 over 400 pupils were enrolled, and the government appointed a committee to make recommendations for future English education in the state. This committee members were Stuart, S. Dennys, E.A.P. Helps, Tunku Mohamed and Tuan Syed Mohamed Idid. They recommended, among other things, that English education should be provided to 800 boys, of whom 640 should be Malays.
Stuart relinquished his post as Headmaster to devote all his time to the Education Office, which occupied the top floor of the Post Office from 1926 until 1935. Hicks took over as Headmaster in late 1926. Stuart died the next year at Pulau Tikus Sanatorium, Penang, and soon afterward the college built a library and named it after him.
Since its early days, the college had allowed co-education. After World War II, more girls were admitted, and in 1953 the Darulaman Magazine commented: “Owing to the shortage of teachers and the small number of students in Kampong Baru Girls” School (KBGS), co-education has been introduced into the Sultan Abdul Hamid College (SAHC) in 1948. KBGS sent only students of Standard Seven. They were Kalsom and Swee Eng, but towards the end of the year Che Zaidah joined them.”
In 1949, four Malay girls enrolled, among them Tunku Sakinah, the daughter of the Sultan of Kedah. In 1950, 11 enrolled. In 1951 the intake dropped because the headmistress of KBGS sent only those she considered the best. By the beginning of 1952 only eight girls were left. In 1953 the figure rose again to 19, making a total of 24 girls in Standard Seven. In 1954 the College started Sixth Form tuition and three more girls enrolled.