The School > History of The School
History of The School

 

Achimota, an educational institution designed with the aim of providing for the educational  needs of the people of the Gold Coast, from kindergarten to university, was founded in Accra in 1927 as the Prince of Wales College by the government of the Gold Coast. It was to provide  education and character training that would equip those who would attend it, for the needs of the nation.

 

 

 

 
Background

 

 

In the preceding years, secondary education was limited to a few missionary schools. Higher education opportunities were limited. Those who aspired to professional qualifications had to leave the country to achieve their ambitions. This often involved lengthy stays in European countries in order for Africans to achieve the highest education qualifications.

 

 

The then Governor of the Gold Coast, Brigadier-General Frederick Gordon Guggisberg, when he assumed duty in 1919 identified an urgent need for an accelerated programme of education that went beyond what the institutions in the country at the time could offer. He set up a commission to look into the educational needs of the country and on the basis of their recommendations proposed a large residential campus-based college where both boys and girls could receive a good education from kindergarten to the university.

 

 

At the heart of Guggisberg's concern was the conviction that some of those educated to the highest qualifications under the prevailing system, relying as it did on long stays in Europe returned, out of touch with their own people. He was also concerned that the system in the Gold Coast itself was insufficiently strong in the type of training that produced leaders. His vision for the College was therefore to address these shortcomings in the educational system as it was then.

 

 


 

 

 

The Vision

 

 

Guggisberg's broad vision, which was later influenced in its detailed development by Rev Alexander Garden Fraser and Dr Emman Kwegyir Aggrey, was to liberate the Africans of the Gold Coast through education.

 

 

He sought to do this by building an institution which would provide greater opportunities to those who wished to gain further education and form the mainstay of a rapidly developing nation, as the Gold Coast was then. The plan included the co-education of boys and girls on a single residential campus, an idea which was unprecedented in its time. This apart, the institution was to be be the main spring of all educational work in the country. As a result, when the College was finally built, the charge given to leaving students was, to “ ... go forth as living waters to a thirsty land ...”

 

 

The education offered at the College was to provide sound character training, the basis on which strong and effective leadership could be built, and was to provide education from the kindergarten to university level. Christian teaching and worship was to form an important component of this education.

 

 

The final vision for the College was expressed in "The Ideals for which the College stands".

 

 


 

 

 

Planning, Construction and Development of the College

 

 

Work for the College and School started three years before its opening. Staff, may of them trained in the most prestigious Universities in the United Kingdom, were recruited and travelled to the Gold Coast where they spent the time prior to the opening preparing for the start of the College, including learning one of the languages of the Gold Coast of their choice.

 

 

Rev Alexander Garden Fraser was appointed the first Principal of the College with Dr Emman Kwegyir Aggrey. as his Vice Principal. Together with Brigadier General Guggisberg, these persons became known as the Founding Fathers of Achimota.

 

 

New BuildingConstruction of the College started in 1924 with a Government Budgetary Grant of £600,000 and a subsequent annual allocation of £48,000. It was endowed with, amongst others, a swimming pool, extensive playing fields including a cricket oval, its own printing press and works department.

 

 

Throughout the whole of the planning, construction and later development stages, Guggisberg and the College received considerable support from a number of people from the Gold Coast including the Chiefs, Nana Sir Ofori Atta and the Fia Sri of Awuna-Ga, who Rev Fraser singled out for mention in his farewell speech.

 

 

The Prince of Wales visited the College in 1925 and gave consent to its proposed name The Price of Wales College.

 

 

The first intake of six children into the Kindergarten was in 1926

 

 

In 1927 the College was formally opened with the Lower and Upper Primary Departments. This was followed in 1929 by the Secondary and University Departments. Courses offered included Art and Music including African Dance; Economics & Commerce; Teacher Training and Vocational Courses; Intermediate Arts, Science, Engineering and first Medical exams; Engineering Degree courses.

 

 

A more complete account of the development of courses in the first decade of the College, written at the time of the Golden Jubilee of the School, can be found at this site.

 

 

Dr Aggrey sadly died a few months after the opening of the College, but not before he had made a substantial input into its ideals and philosophies, with his ideas on the education of girls, and the harmony of black and white people working together, being the better known ones. This latter idea formed the basis of the Crest of Achimota, a depiction of black and white piano keys which signify the harmonious result of African and European people working together.

 

 

In 1938 the College Inspectors recommended that the School and the College be separated. This could not be immediately implemented until 1948 when separate laws were passed to establish the University College and the Teacher Training College and Achimota School.

 

 

By 1940 the College had grown to 700 pupils and students attending various courses of study in kindergarten, Primary, Secondary, Teacher Training, Pre-University and University Departments.

 

 

The School and Post Secondary Departments were separated in 1945. Achimota went on to introduce the Sixth form. The School at the time, was made up of the Primary and Secondary Departments, with the Secondary Department located on the central campus known as the "Eastern Compound".

 

 

Following the restructuring of the education system into Primary, Junior and Senior Secondary Schools, the Secondary School campus was converted into a Senior Secondary School, receiving its first pupils under the new system in 1991. The old Primary School located on the Western Compound, expanded to accommodate the new Primary & Junior Secondary School.

 

 


 

 

 

Government

 

 

Achimota started off a Department of Government. In 1930 it was given its own Constitution and Governing Council independent of the Education Department and Government, with the freedom to guide and develop its own policy and course content. The College was at the time, headed by a College Principal under the Achimota College Council.

 

 

Following the physical separation of the post secondary department from the School, Achimota's head became known as the Headmaster or Headmistress.

 

 

With the passing of the Ordinances of 1948, the University Department, subsequently University College, the Teaching Training Department, later Training College, were separated from the School, both physically and in governing structures which were made totally independent of the School.

 

 

In 1961, the Education Act of 1961 reorganised the education in the country and in so doing altered the powers retained by the Board of Governors of the School. The freedom of the Board to develop its own policy and course content was lost, and Achimota moved into the mainstream of education in Ghana, with policy being directed at ministerial level. This has remained the case till today.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Achimota Today

 

 

Today, Achimota is made up of a Primary, Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary Schools. Of these, the Senior Secondary School is the institution that has largely inherited the Legacy of the original Prince of Wales, later Achimota College - the first Government co-educational boarding college to be established in the Gold Coast, now Ghana. Although established as a Non-Denominational Christian Institution, it has long since admitted pupils of other religious faiths.

 

 

The School is still situated at its original location. Unlike other schools which have had to move during their formative years to allow expansion, Achimota, endowed as it was then with about 950 acres of land, has been able to accommodate its growth over all of its eighty years since its inception, entirely within the original boundaries.

 

 

The main campus which covers about 17 hectares, is home to the Administration and Teaching Blocks, boarding houses, Dining Hall, Assembly Hall and Chapels (Separate provisions being made for Catholic and Protestant worship).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Population

 

 

Today the School has a total student population about 1,500, with a little over half of these being girls. In this regard, it has fully lived up to the vision of its Founding Fathers and the second of the Ideals on which the School was built - an equal opportunity for girls with boys in education. The teaching staff number about eighty with a non-teaching staff of about one hundred and twenty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boarding Life

 

 

With the exception of a small number of Day Students who live at home, all Students stay in one of the fourteen boarding houses. There are seven houses for boys and seven for girls. One of the boys and three of the girls houses are located on what is known as the Western Compound. About a quarter of the student population live on the Western Compound. The remainder, live in the ten houses located on the main, central, campus sometimes referred to as the Eastern Compound.

 

 

Each house has an average of 120 students ranging from the first to final year of the Senior Secondary School System. They come from a different nationalities and social backgrounds.

 

 

The boarding system forms the pivot around which the third to sixth of The Ideals on which the School was Founded are imparted to the students. In particular, it permits a full life where in academic, extra- or co- curricula and finally normal day to day activity, students learn character building including

 

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    respect for all that is true and lasting value in the old African culture, beliefs and ways of life

     

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    willing and humble service of the educated for the uneducated

     

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    mutual understanding and co-operation between Christians of all denominations, and the growth of that spirit in which all the churches shall be united again

     

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    friendship, respect and co-operation between all races on equal terms,

     

 

preparing them for life outside school and teaching them to assume leadership roles in life.

 

 


 

 

 

Governance

 

 

The School is governed by a fourteen member Board of Governors headed by a Chairperson, all appointed by the Government of Ghana. Provision is made for various stakeholder representation, including two places reserved for persons nominated by the OAA.

 

 

The Board exercises its mandate to govern within a framework set out in the Education Act of 1961. This mandate, when compared to the original powers vested in the first Achimota Governing Council, limit the authority of The Board in a number of respects. In broad terms, the selection of students, appointment of a Headmaster or Headmistress, remuneration and conditions of service of staff, determination of an appropriate level of school fees, curriculum and course content are determined by the Ministry of Education's National Policy rather than the Board's specific School Policy. Ownership of the assets of the School are however, still vested in the Board of Governors.

 

 

Day to day running of the School is in the hands of the Headmaster or Headmistress. The Head is supported by three Assistants, a Senior Housemaster and a Senior Housemistress. This group of six constitute the Schools Administration.

 

 

Staff are employed by the Ghana Education Service and deployed to the School as and when vacancies arise.

 

 

Life in the boarding houses is under the general supervision of two housestaff who live in accommodation located adjacent or annexed to the boarding house.

 

 

Staff are assisted in the supervision of students by an elected body of prefects, headed by a Boys Senior, and Girls Senior, Prefect. Each of these prefects is assigned a specific area of responsibility. In the boarding houses, the prefects are supported by other students appointed as monitors for this purpose. Thus the foundations of leadership, which so concerned Governor Guggisberg, the first of the School's Founding Fathers, are laid through progressive practice, in support of the overall mission of the School.

 

 

The voice of the student body is heard though a Student's Representative Council (SRC), made up of elected representatives from each of the boarding houses and forms. They meet to discuss matters affecting students in the School, and together with the prefects, form a channel of communication with the School Administration in these matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funding

 

 

The School in common with other government educational institutions receives a grant from the central government for the running of the School. This covers staff salaries, provision of books and maintenance of School infrastructure. Special provision is not made for the unique nature of the School imposed by the sheer physical size and extent of its infrastructure. In an attempt to compensate for this, the Old Achimotan Association (OAA), friends of Achimota and the Parent Teacher Association, strive continuously to provide additional support to the School in various ways, including raising funds for its continued maintenance and development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The School Year

 

 

The School Year currently runs from September to July of the following calender year. This time is broken up into three terms with short holidays between terms. A total of approximately 40 weeks are spent in the School in each academic year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curriculum

 

 

Apart from the academic and intellectual development of its students, the School lays a strong emphasis on practical training skills as well as character training.

 

 

The School currently offers programmes of three year duration, leading to the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) in any of the following courses

 

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    General Science

     

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    Agricultural Science

     

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    General Arts

     

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    Vocational Studies (Home Economics or Visual Arts)

     

 

Although the government has announced plans to extend the duration of the Senior Secondary School from the current three years to four, this has not yet been implemented. Students therefore spend a total of three years in the School prior to graduating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Departments and Schools within Achimota School

 

 

There are two departments, two designated Schools and a Home Science Unit responsible for the teaching of the subjects offered. The departments are;

 

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    The Science & Mathematics Departments (responsible for the study of maths and science, including computer skills)

     

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    The Arts Department (with responsibility for the study of the Arts - Language and literature, History Economics, Geography, Religious Studies)

     

 

and the schools:

 

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    The Music School (with specific responsibility for the study of music, training of the Aggrey Chapel Choir and organizing music festivals)

     

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    The Art School (with specific responsibility for the study of art)

     

 


 

 

 

Sports and Games

 

 

A Cricket Match at the School's OvalThe School actively encourages sports and games. It is fortunate to be endowed with large playing fields which include an athletics field, football pitches, hockey pitch, cricket oval, volleyball and basketball courts. Boys and girls have separate gymnasia providing for a variety of indoor sporting activity, including weight training.

 

 

Inter-house competitions are held each year in various sporting disciplines with cups and other prizes awarded to the wining houses. Each year a Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year is selected and awarded a prize based on all round excellence in sport. The names of prize winners over the decades ,up to date, have been recorded permanently on a board displayed to public view inside the entrance to the School's Administration Block.

 

 


 

 

 

The Army Cadet Corps

 

 

The School's Army Cadet Corps on ParadeThe Achimota School Cadet Corps is the oldest corps of school army cadets. Established in 1955, it has a purpose built parade square where it carries out most of its training. Although admission to the Corps was originally limited to boys, the Corps has, since the mid seventies, in fidelity to the Ideals on which the School was founded, admitted girls as well.

 

 

The cadets are well known by Achimotans and friends of Achimotans for their traditional Founders Day Parade held on the morning of the Schools Founders Day celebration. These parades have on occasion included a mock battle and other manoeuvres. The Cadet Corps have also taken part in national parades at the nation's "Black Star Square".

 

 

Over the years the Corps have produced cadets who have gone on, after completing their education, to join the Army, Air Force and Navy, serving their country with distinction.

 

 

The Corps is supported by the Ghana Army, with the Recce (Reconnaissance) Regiment as its mother unit.

 

 


 

 

 

Other Activities

 

 

Student engage in various other activities of interest to each individual. There are opportunities to attend plays acted by the students, film shows and debates organised during Saturday Entertainment Nights.

 

 

On specific days, various clubs and societies hold their meetings. Clubs currently include the Scripture Union, (SU) the Ghana United Nations Students Association (GUNSA), French Club, Writers Club, Drama Club, Friends of the Environment, Table Tennis and Lawn Tennis Clubs amongst others.

 

 

The clubs and societies are organized and run by the students under the supervision of a Patron who is a member of the academic staff. Some of the clubs and societies are also supported by parent organisations outside the School.

 

 


 

 

 

Admissions

 

 

Students are admitted in September each year into Senior Secondary School (SSS) Form One. Selection is done on the basis of the results of their Basic Education Examination taken at the end of the Junior Secondary School. Currently selection of students is no longer done by the School, but is undertaken as part of a centralised nationwide computerised selection system. Notwithstanding this change, it is still widely accepted that only those with the highest examination grades make it to Achimota.

 

 

A few vacancies exist for foreign students who have not been part of the Ghanaian education system. Such applicants are assessed on the basis of their academic performance in their previous schools and an admissions test and interview. All foreign students are required to have a parent or guardian living in Ghana.

 

 


 

 

 

Fees

 

 

Ghanaian students enjoy tuition-free education. A separate fee is however payable by boarding students. This fee covers the cost of boarding, feeding etc. The boarding fees are determined by the government and are revised from time to time. Some students receive grants under various schemes to cover the cost of boarding and any other fees.

 

 

Foreign student have to pay tuition and, in the case of boarders, boarding fees.

 

 

 


 

 


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