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Achimota School is an elite secondary school at Legon near Accra in Ghana. It was established in 1927 by Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisberg, Dr. James Kwegyir Aggrey and Rev. Alexander Gorden Fraser. It has educated many African leaders, including Kwame Nkrumah and Jerry John Rawlings both former Ghanaian presidents. An alumnus/alumna of Achimota is known as an AKORA.
The motto of the school is "Ut Omnes Unum Sint" meaning "That all may be one", a reference to the abiding philoposphy of the founders that, starting in the context of school life, black and white, male and female, should integrate and combine synergistically for the good of all. This is also graphically represented by the symbolised black and white piano keys emblem of the school.
Originally known as the Prince of Wales College and School or Achimota College, Achimota was formally opened on January 28, 1927 by the then Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisberg. Over the years, it emerged as one of the most prestigious institutions of its kind, known for its unparalleled academic record and a culture of outstanding social breeding, producing from its student body and teaching college, many notable African personalities including several Heads of State, politicians, academicians, scientists, doctors, lawyers, artistes and industrialists. The “Hall of Fame” boasts such dignitaries as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Pan-African leader and First President of The Republic of Ghana; Jerry John Rawlings, also Head of State of Ghana and his wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings; Prof. John Atta Mills, former Vice President of Ghana; Ekwow Spio-Garbrah CEO of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization, Alhaji Sir Dauda Jhawarra, first Head of State of The Gambia. Also among notable AKORAs are ZANU freedom fighter Ndabaningi Sithole, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and the late Zimbabwean First Lady Mrs. Sally Mugabe.
"Though set upon a desert hill, may living waters rise in thee. And from thy children wider flow, the rivers of eternity" (Quote from School Hymn)
The school occupies over two square miles of prime real estate in the middle of a forest reserve, and its colonial architecture and well-planned landscape make for a visually pleasing tour of the campus and surrounding area. The campus facilities comprise two chapels, one of which is the famous Aggrey Memorial Chapel; three dining halls, two gymnasia, very extensive sports playing fields, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a cricket oval, basketball court, tennis and squash courts, and an arboretum.
Although much of this has lately fallen into disrepair, a concerned group of alumni known as AC2010 has recently launched a drive to restore the school's infrastructure and raise its academic standard back to what it once was. More information on this campaign can be obtained from http://www.AC2010.org.
Located close to the campus are the Achimota Golf Course, a post office, a police station, a village for the School's employees, a forest reserve, a large farm, and a 45-bed hospital that serves the School's students, employees and their families, as well as the community surrounding the campus.
Resuming in 2002, lessons in aspects of Ghanaian culture such as drumming, dancing, and woodcarving were revamped in an effort to incorporate more of the national culture into the curriculum. The School offers academic programs in the Arts, Sciences, Computer Science, and Mathematics. It has an Art School, a Music School, and a Home Science department.
Current total student enrolment at Achimota School is approximately 1,500. The school is a boarding school, typical of many second-cycle institutions in Ghana. Its current principal is Mrs. Adelaide Kwami, who succeeded Mrs. Charlotte Brew-Graves. There are 14 single-sex halls of residence (called houses) located on either the East campus (E) or West campus (W).
After the First World War, the Government of the Gold Coast felt the need for an advanced education, for as the Colonial Secretary put it, “... in spite of the existence of one or two educational institutions of a secondary nature, the intellectual gap between the African who had completed his education at an English University and the semi-educated African of our primary school is dangerously wide. No one is more ready than I to sympathize with the legitimate aspirations of the African for advancement and for a greater share in the Government of this country, but if we are to help him to do this, if we are to protect the masses from the hasty and ill-conceived schemes of possible local demagogues, we must hasten as rapidly as our means will allow to fill up the gap between the two classes.”
Achimota College was therefore established as part of Guggisberg's plan to reform the Gold Coast's educational system. In August 1920, Guggisberg met and befriended native-born Dr. James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey who was in the Gold Coast as a member of the Phelps-Stokes Fund's African Education Commission. In 1922, as a result of the Phelps-Stokes Commission's report on education, Guggisberg appointed a new Committee to review the recommendations made in 1920 on education reform in the Gold Coast. The 1922 Committee recommended the establishment of a comprehensive institution at the site chosen at Achimota to provide general secondary education, teacher training, and technical education for male students. Achimota College was then conceived, thanks to the effort and support of enlightened chiefs, such as Nene Sir Emmanuel Mate Kole, Konor of Manya Krobo; Nana (later Sir) Ofori Atta, Omanhene of Akim Abuakwa; and Nana Amonoo V, Omanhene of Anomabo; thanks also to prominent statesmen of the time such as the Honourable Dr. B. W. Quartey Quaye Papafio, the Honourable F. V. Nanka-Bruce, both of Accra; the Honourable Thomas Hutton-Mills (Snr.) of Accra, the Honourable E. J. P. Brown of Cape Coast, and the Honourable J. Ephraim Casely-Hayford of Sekondi.
The Colonial Government meant to carry out its policy to establish an excellent secondary institution where teachers as well as students would be trained. In that regard, the Legislative Council went on to approve the 1923-24 budget for the establishment of the Prince of Wales College and School or Achimota College and in March 1924, Guggisberg laid the foundation stone. Rev. Alexander G. Fraser was appointed the First Principal (1924-1935) and Dr. James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey the first Vice Principal (1924-1927). Fraser had previously been a very successful Prnicipal of Trinity College, Kandy, an elite school in Ceylon, and was hailed as the greatest colonial headmaster of his day by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Aggrey, the first Vice Principal, campaigned vigorously for women's education at a time when the idea was not popular, and held the belief that to educate a man was to educate an individual, while educating a woman had more far-reaching benefits to family and community. This led to an increase in the number of places offered to girls by the College.
From 1924 until it opened on January 28, 1927, Guggisberg, Fraser and Aggrey worked together to realize Guggisberg's dream of establishing a first class co-educational school and college. The University College of the Gold Coast, which is now known as the University of Ghana, had its roots in Achimota College. The University of Ghana holds its annual Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lecture series to honour the Founders' contributions to education in Ghana. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) also had its roots in Achimota College's Engineering School.
You can read more about the current status of Achimota School at http://www.AC2010.org, http://www.oldAchimotan.org and AchimotaTrust.org. See also the Achimota Fund website at www.achimotafund.org for additional information about the School's facilities and the campus map.
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