THE ROLE OF ASANTEMAN
IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF SCHOOLS AND
IMPACT ON EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The restoration of Asante Confederacy brought renaissance of its own significance to the power of learning and formal education, formal acquisition of skills and development of professions required for nation building and ensuring a progressive society.
The abrogation of the Union of our Asante State in 1896 was unfortunate as much as its restoration was a blessing after about a mere 40 years in limbo. This landmark event in its 75th year this 31st January 2010 is immensely significant for the survival of a proud industrious people and deserves a fitting observance and remembrance by its kith and kin who want to feel grateful for the restoration of her honour and dignity in the union we cherish to the soul.
The Asante Kingdom had learnt that there was strength in unity, it had all the traits of a good government in the form of: – its performance which enabled it to endure through its three centuries of existence, upholding a supreme head embodied in the Asantehene and its foundation on solid and just principles, which through the years were being refined by way of education. These testimonies by the Governor of the Gold Coast at the time of the restoration, Sir Arnold Hudson pointed to the credible nature of state of the union.
SUPPORT FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF EDUCATION
Through the contact with the white man, Nananom must have been baffled by the superior firepower of their armament, managerial skills by which they subdued the traditional prowess of our people, the quality and production methods of items of every day use. These were impressive qualities of the whiteman which were worth learning.
Yet, Nananom took time in embracing their method of passing on knowledge and skills and improving on them. When the realization dawned on Nananom that the vital key to development was and remains formal education through schooling, they took the bull by the horn.
Across the Asante nation radiating from the centre with Otumfuo at Manhyia, Nananom readily and willing collaborated with central government and missionary providers of school facilities and infrastructure. In many instances chiefs led their people and took local initiatives to put up schools and sought expertise from relevant agencies to sustain them.
In all instances large tracts of land were released and allocated for development of schools with token compensation in real terms. In other scenarios, local groups of the youth and church parishioners agitated for various levels of school facilities with active cooperation of Nananom and released land for educational purposes.
Otumfuo and his paramount, divisional and sub-chiefs welcomed and allowed the early missions who arrived to settle on choicy areas to establish missionary and educational enterprise from before restoration in 1935 and indeed before the union was disbanded in 1896.
The Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic and Ahmadiyya Missions thus gained foothold to cathechise and educate the people.
Notable schools which were established in time with direct traditional authority involvement for the development of Asanteman are:-
(i) Asem Boys Government School established in 1903 and Government Girls (Yaa Achiaa) School in 1926
(ii) Kotoko High School which Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II established in 1940 and having gone through relocation and renaming to the present State Boys and Girls Basic Schools.
(iii) Wesley College established in 1924 in collaboration with the Methodist Mission.
(iv) Prempeh College, founded and opened in 1949, and
(v) Opoku Ware School in 1952.
These premier schools were established as Partnership Enterprise between the State, the Mission, Presbyterian//Methodist in the case of Prempeh college and Roman Catholic in the case of Opoku Ware School, and, third partner in the two cases – the Traditional Authority.
(vi) Yaa Asantewaa Girls Secondary School established in 1960 along with other Ghana Education Trust (GET) schools as the first Government Girls Secondary School in the domain, it received all the material support and secure boundaries from Nananom for a prospective take-off.
(vii) Asanteman Secondary School in 1954, starting off as Asante Youth Association Day School got direct support from Otumfuo at Manhyia to show solidarity and share the aspirations of the Youth Group, A.Y.A.
(viii) Osei Kyeretwie Secondary School which started off as Asante Collegiate in 1937 as the first Secondary School in Asante by a private Sierra Leonian businessman received support from Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyeman Premeph II as it passed through its phases of development.
(ix) St. Monica cluster of Educational Institutions; Nananom at Asante Mampong played pivotal role in collaboration with the English Church Mission established Primary, Secondary, Teacher and Nursing Training Colleges in the post restoration years to give meaning to their commitment to the promotion of education and skills acquisition.
(x) At Bompata in Asante Akim, at Offinso and in at all paramount centres Nananom led active campaign and mobilized their people to support central government and mission effort in establishing schools to bring education to the doorstep of the people.
In due course individuals, indigenous and others alike of goodwill established schools and institutes to supplement government and Traditional Authority efforts. We cannot but mention the selflessness, insight and sacrifices made for public good of;
i. Mr. J.C. Akosa of Asante Mampong
ii. Mr. “Simms” Kofi Mensah of Fawoade
iii. Opanin Kofi Agyei of Bampenase, and
iv. Madam Mancell of Mancell Vocational Institute
These are only examples of educational institutions at the basic and second cycle levels among many others which Otumfuo and Nananom, Asanteman Council and well-meaning individuals founded, supported and nurtured to give solid foundation for the development and progress of Asanteman and Ghana in general.
These and other institutions in the region are among the best performing in all aspects of school activities.
In Asante, in Ghana and indeed around the world graduates of these institutions are among the finest professionals, personnel of industry and commerce and leaders offering services for the good of humanity.
It is noteworthy to mention a few of high profile personalities who passed through these schools.
• Otumfuo Osei Tutu attended and therefore an alumnus of Osei Kyeretwie Secondary School.
• Former President J.A. Kufuor attended Asem Government Boys and Prempeh College
• Former UN Secretary General, Busumuru Kofi Annan attended Asem Government Boys
SOFT SUPPORT FOR EDUCATION
It is noticeable in and around the nation that poverty abounds and ravages our people. Poverty even prevents talented young people form taking advantage of facilities provided in the schools. This fact of life has not been lost to Otumfuo and Nananom of Asanteman Council.
At various stages along the development of our history, the Asanteman Council has shown patriarchal support in financial aid to its sons and daughters to study home and abroad to be prospective scholars of the Asante Nation.
We note with appreciation and gratitude the establishment of the following scholarship schemes and Foundations through which Nananom of Asanteman Council and successive occupants of the golden stool officially channelled financial and material support.
1. The Asanteman Council Scholarship Scheme, which between 1946 and 1952 sponsored well over 100 young men and women through Secondary, Teacher Training and University education.
2. Otumfuo Opoku Ware Jubilee Foundation and Scholarship Scheme of 1995. The Board of the Foundation has awarded and continues to award bursaries to deserving but poorly resourced students in all the paramouncies in Asanteman.
3. The Otumfuo Osei Tutu II Education Fund, set up in 1999 to mitigate the decline of standards of education in Asanteman in particular and Ghana as a whole.
Institutions and students in and beyond Asanteman have benefited from material and financial largesse of the Fund to the admiration of people and Institutions beyond the borders of our country.
SUSTAINING EDUCATION DELIVERY AND CHALLENGES.
Education and its application offspring have been the prime means by which nations and human communities have progressed and sustained themselves and improved the quality of lives of their people.
It is the view of this committee that each person has a unique quality which can be developed for self-realisation and use it to contribute to the good of society.
This unlocking of potential comes about by education,
It is suggested that Nananom continue to support the government policy to increase access of education to our young people.
The decline of school attendance in our rural areas is a matter of great concern.
Rekindling of communal self-help to life-enhancing projects to supplement central government and District Assembly effort should engage the attention of Traditional Authorities as it used to be in times past.
Such exemplary and active leadership firmly establish the credibility, respect, honour and love of the people who are craving for leadership.
If Nananom of old saw the need and benefit of education and were moved to allocate land for educational purposes, it is ironical to see our much more enlightened leaders resort to inappropriate reclaim and sale of school lands and or encourage encroachment on them.
It is note-worthy to realize that education is still the key to the development of our nation and state and the power to free our people from exploitation and enslavement. Therefore we must make adequate allocation for the expansion and development of education. Sale of school lands perhaps amounts to sale of the hen that lays the golden egg.
All professions are important for the general good but he who practises his profession by accepting to live among us in our villages and local communities, he whose hands we entrust our children to train their minds and prepare them to take our place, need our support.
Surely Nananom can champion and influence the provision of teachers living quarters in our communities.
That Asanteman Council consider the setting up of a University – a Royal or Regal University to specialize specifically on courses related to the social and environment issues of our time.
Long live Otumfuo!
Long live Nananom!!
Long live Asanteman!!
Long live Ghana!!!
By: STEPHEN ANOKYE, Headmaster, Opoku Ware School
(Obf A Team of Heads of 1st And 2nd Cycle Schools In Kumasi)