The year was 1970, and I was 10 years old. My mother , one morning told me that we were going back to Ghana for good. Her reason was that she had accomplished her reason for being in the UK, her scholarship to study in the UK was up and she now had to return to Ghana to serve her country. I couldn’t hold back my excitement. The next day, I told all my friends of my pending trip. Almost all of them offered to to give my a toy to take along with my, thinking that I would not have friends to play with or not have any toys at all. I was to excited to accept any gifts. I immediately declined them with a fat smile on my face. I really don’t think all the excitement in me was due to the fact that I was to another country, or for that matter going back to the Country of my ancestors. I think it was more to do with the fact that I was leaving the neighbourhood I did not like; the neighbourhood in which I had experienced so much racist comments from kids my own age or older. From a kids perspective, i was “sod it” I am out of here.
So the next month found us in Accra, Ghana, to be precise…Nyaniba Estates. The first thing that “hit me” were the mosquitos. They seemed to be everywhere. No matter what I did, I just could not get rid of the buggers. Then there were the lizards. They just amazed me. They too seemed to be everywhere. I just could not get my head round it. It was absolutely fascinating. Surprisingly, I didn’t breakdown crying, asking to be sent back to the UK. I wanted more of what I had just discovered…Ghana.
I was enrolled at Saint Michaels International School, located at Osu Ako-Adjei park. The school was absolutely great. I did not stay there for long because my Mother got her first posting to Dormaa Secondary School, in the Brong Ahafo Region.
At the age of ten an a half years, I was in Secondary school form one. The average age for everyone else in form one was 17years. I was the new “Dada Ba” in the block. To be honest, I was totally lost. One thing for sure was that I was not “Homo’d”.The was because my Mother wanted me to spend the first year with her in her bungalow; a very good decision that was too. I spent four splendid years at Dormaas and enjoyed every bit of it. If I had seriously had that opportunity to Time Travel back in time, I would opt for that time frame I arrived at Dormaas and when I finally left there.
I believe that I entered the Ghanaian Education system at the time when it was at its best. Admittedly, I struggled in the my first year there, always coming at the bottom of the class. This was not unexpected as I had moved from one education system to another which were totally unrelated. However after the first year, I soon learnt the ropes and was clocking positions between second and fifth on the league table. Now I come to the most interesting part of education in Ghana at that time, and why I feel if your were in a good secondary school at tthat time, you were actually learning something.
Let me start off with the bursary scheme that was in place a that time. The bursary scheme, as I remember it was set in place to assist t the children of Cocoa Farmers who needed help in paying their school fees over a period of time. Since Cocoa farming was a major farming activity in Ghana, especially in that part of the region, it was a brilliant idea. Then there were the subjects that formed the teaching curriculum. In forms One, Two and Three, I learnt Latin. In form Four (possibly starting in Form Three) we were taught Typing. Now check this out. We have a huge building next to the main class rooms and it was packed with typewriters. Did I mention the Logarithm books and Slide rules we user in Maths and Additional Maths classes?
The various building that made up most of the secondary schools in those days were virtually the same. I am assuming that the Ghana Education Service at that time had a serious “game plan”. The Administration Block, Classrooms, Dinning Halls and Dormitories followed a consistent pattern. They were well looked after too.
The Famous Appian Way – Dormaa Secondary School
On a quite reflection, I ask myself, did we know at that time how fortunate we were in have all these means of educating ourselves available to us? Very slowly, what had been firmly put in place those days have been removed and have been replaced with a system only God knows where it was sourced from. Typing and Latin are no longer taught in the Junior Secondary School (JSS) and Senior Secondary School (SSS) education system that has suddenly become part of the education system in Ghana. I suppose it is fair to say that typewriters are a tool of the past, but then, with the introduction of the personal computer, how many of the JSS and SSS schools have a computer classroom kitted with a PC on each desk. And then there is the sudden influx of Universities springing up everywhere. Do not get me wrong. Of course Universities are a good thing, but the question begs to be asked….who is monitoring these Universities; and this includes a whole range things.
I have not as yet had the privilege of speaking to anyone who has successfully gone through the JSS/SSS education system. I have noted that since the inception of the JSS and SSS program as many of the secondary schools in the country have been converted to SSS I am sure that one way or the other, the system works, but does the system work better than what was originally set in place? Perhaps you are one of those people who had the privilege to be educated in the JSS/SSS school system, then please share your experience here.