Women’s role in the Prempeh College story

Prempeh College, one of the first second cycle institutions in the middle and northern sectors of Ghana, celebrates its 63rd Speech and Prize-giving/Fifth Founding Fathers and Pioneer Students Day on February 11, 2012. The Guest Speaker for the occasion is the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi. Mr Ahwoi is an alumnus of Prempeh College.

Teaching Staff
Since pioneer students arrived at the college in February 1949, a number of women have played tremendous roles in the success story of the school and have made various contributions to the social and economic advancement of Ghana.

These women have constituted an integral part of the human resource that has imparted knowledge to students. Four women were part of the initial teaching staff of the college. They were Mrs Pearson, Mrs Manshard, Mrs Manu (an expatriate married to a Ghanaian) and Miss Nockolds. They were versatile tutors. Miss Nockolds taught English and Literature.

Mrs Manu was a tutor in Biology and Science. Mrs Manshard, whose husband taught Geography in the college, taught German. Mrs Pearson was the wife of the pioneer Headmaster. She taught Architectural Designing and Fine Art. Ms Anita Paul and Mrs Cronje joined the teaching staff in the 1960s. Together with their male colleagues, they laid a good foundation for seasoned academic work that brought Prempeh College to the limelight. Ms Joyce Aryee, who was a Secretary for Information in the erstwhile Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) administration, was the guest speaker for the colleges 36th Speech and Prize-Giving Day in 1985.

Serwa House
Prempeh College has Asante royal roots. The Asante monarchy is a matrilineal institution. It is the Queen of Asante (Asantehemaa) whose nomination or candidate eventually becomes the occupant of the golden stool, the Asantehene. The college was named after the 14th Asantehene (Otumfour Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II), and one student residential facility was also named after the founder of Asante state and first Asantehene, Nana Osei Tutu Opemsuo I.

In the 20th century, another house was named after the 15th Asantehene, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II. The college also gave recognition to the position of women in the Asante royal set-up in the early period of the colleges history and a house was thus named after an Asantehemaa, Nana Serwa Nyarko. Like the rest of the houses in the school, Serwa House has accommodated a number of students who are now occupying various key positions in and outside the country.

Some of them are Mr Kwadwo Okyere Mpiani, a former Chief of Staff and Minister for Presidential Affairs of the Republic of Ghana; Dr Owusu Afram, Ashanti Regional Minister in the third Republic, Dr Emmanuel Osei Kufuor, the General Practitioner in-charge at Mary Pomaa Memorial Clinic in Kumasi; Lieutenant Colonel (retd.) Dr Victor Akrofi, a dentist in Kumasi and Professor Peter Donkor, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

Other old students of the Serwa House include the Most Reverend Dr. Robert Aboagye Mensah, a former Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church Ghana, Mr Dominic Owusu Sekyere, Managing Director of Blue Chip Company; Mr Anim D. Atiemo, Headmaster of Manso Adubea Senior High School in Ashanti, Colonel Thomas Oppong Peprah of the Ghana Armed Forces, Dr Abraham Yeboah Mensah of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Mr Wczynsky M. Ashiagbor, Managing Partner of PricewaterHouseCoopers (Ghana) who is also the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) General Certificate of Education (GCE) examination Ordinary Level Overall Best candidate for 1984 and Dr Joseph Ogyaadu of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.

Early administration
Dr K.E. Appiah is a pioneer student of the college. He is a paediatrician/physician and the Medical Director of Bomso Clinic, a specialist hospital in Kumasi. He is the first prefect of the Serwa House. He was assisted by Oheneba Atwereboanda Agyeman, who is now the Hiahene of Kumasi. Mr David Copp, a tutor in Mathematics and Geometry became the first Serwa Housemaster from 1953 to 1960.

After leaving for his native country, the United Kingdom in 1960, he returned to Ghana in the last week of October 2006. This was when two of his former students (ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor and Mr Kwadwo Okyere Mpiani) were members of the government of Ghana. Mr Copp, in the company of his wife, his three children (two of whom were born in Kumasi), his two sons-in-law and two teenage grandsons, met a section of Prempeh College alumni at the Ashanti Regional Co-ordinating Council in Kumasi. Mr Copp and his entourage had a guided tour at the Osu Castle.

The first Serwa Housemaster visited Serwa House. He also had conversation with women at the college kitchen. Then at eighty years, the retired British educationist was sharp. He remembered some landmarks in the garden city of Kumasi. At a dinner held in his honour at the Miklin hotel in Kumasi, he expressed joy at the results of the work he did decades earlier in Kumasi.

Alumnae of the college
The notion is generally held that Prempeh College has been an all-male institution but this has always not been the case. Some females had their Sixth Form (GCE Advanced Level) education at Prempeh College in the 1970s and the 1980s. They were largely drawn from Yaa Asantewaa and Kumasi Girls Senior High schools. They were all day students. Mrs Vesta E. Adu-Gyamfi (nee Asuako) was the first person to read GCE Advanced Level Fine Art at Prempeh College from 1975 to 1977. She is a senior lecturer and the first female Head of the Department of Integrated Rural Art and Industry at the KNUST from 2006 to 2008 and from 2009 to 2010. Other Prempeh alumnae include Dr (Mrs) Beatrice Heyman (nee Mensah), a senior medical officer with the Ministry of Health in Accra and Ms Millicent Akpo-Teye who is a senior officer with the Ghana Revenue Authority (Custom Division) also in Accra.

Acting Headmasters
The Ghana Education Service (GES) is structured in a way that when a headmaster/headmistress retires, the Metropolitan/Municipal/District Director of Education in charge of the area where the school is located takes responsibility for the school until the appointment of a substantive head. On two occasions when headmasters of Prempeh College went on retirement, the metropolitan directors of the GES in Kumasi took over the running of the college.

Mrs Gladys Kwapong took charge of Prempeh College after the retirement of the golden jubilee headmaster, Mr. E.A. Sekyere, while Mrs Gladys Amaning became the acting headmaster in 2009 after the retirement of Mr Asamoah Owusu Achiaw.

Mrs Victoria Derkyi Annan, a former headmistress of Afia Kobi Senior High School in Ashanti taught English and Literature at Prempeh College. In the latter part of the 1990s, she became the first assistant headmistress of Prempeh College and Mrs Rosina Turkson had been the assistant headmistress (domestic) of Prempeh College since 2009.

Preparatory grounds
Some women who took leadership roles in second cycle institutions and other sectors in Ghana were tutors at Prempeh College. Mrs Rosina Acheampong taught French at Prempeh College. She became the first Ghanaian headmistress of Wesley Girls High School in Cape Coast.

Mrs Betty Djokoto, current headmistress of Wesley Girls High School also taught French at Prempeh College. Mrs Agnes Koranteng, a former Principal of Ola Training College in Cape Coast, taught English and History at Prempeh College. Mrs Georgina Lartey, Principal of Sefwi Wiawso College of Education, was a tutor in Business Management at Prempeh College.

Mrs Mary Kraah Ampofo was a tutor in English at Prempeh College before her elevation to the position of Headmistress of Kumasi Girls Senior High School (KUGISS). Mention could also be made of Reverend (Mrs) Comfort Otoo, who in addition to teaching English and Literature in the school for several years, plays an additional role of assistant chaplain.

Dr (Mrs) Olivia Glime, a retired lecturer at the Faculty of Industrial Art at the KNUST was a tutor in Fine Art. Ms. Josephine Hilda Addo, former Member of Parliament for Kwadaso Constituency was a tutor in Economics. Ms Rebecca Asah of the Ghana Revenue Authority (Custom Division) was a tutor in French. Dr (Mrs) Naana Agyemang Mensah, the Country Director of the Hunger Project (Ghana) was a tutor in English.

Though she no longer teaches at Prempeh College, her name cannot be left out in the success story of Prempeh College. She is married to an alumnus of Prempeh College, Dr Kwaku Agyeman Mensah, the honourable Ashanti Regional Minister. The names of Mrs Claudia Yempew who taught French, Mrs Stella Adomah, Geography, Mrs Rachel Ayiah (English), Mrs Mary Kyere, English, Ms J.B. Ossei (Bible Knowledge), Ms Mary Dwumfour (Agricultural Science), Mrs Janet Blankson (Biology/General Science), Mrs Vivian Essuman (Chemistry), Mrs Sosu Kumassah (English), Ms Saara Nana Arthur (English) and many other women have played important roles in the story of the college that continues to inspire many.

The writer is the Library Master of Prempeh College, Kumasi

Joseph K.A. Bimpong
E-mail: [email protected]

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