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Nkrumah's Educational Legacy

Dr Kwame Nkrumah, a man of many parts, contributed greatly to the development of education in the country. Himself an academician, he set up the Ghana Education Trust, under which a number of secondary schools, teacher training colleges and higher educational institutions were also established.

The legacy of Dr Nkrumah in the area of education is unmatched as the educational institutions he set up in the country have become the building blocks of Ghana’s foundation.

Right from the secondary schools to the universities, it was evident that Dr Nkrumah had a great vision for the country. His vision on education was to provide the platform, through the establishment of educational institutions, to produce the manpower or the human resource needed for the development of the country.

As a starter, Dr Nkrumah began with the establishment of the Ghana National College in Cape Coast. He named the new school 'Ghana National College' and directed that the school's motto be 'Pro Patria', which means 'For the Honour and Glory of our Fatherland'.

Dr Kwame Nkrumah, on Tuesday, July 20, 1948, delivered a keynote address to inaugurate the new school, and on that same day, he delivered a brilliant speech, portions of which have been quoted below.

'In spite of the humble conditions under which we have started, I bring you a message of hope and inspiration. I bid you shake hands with your fellows and teachers over your study table and over the blackboards.

'I look forward to the time when there will be a chain of Ghana Colleges in all the four territories which make up the Gold Coast, leading to the founding of a very high institution in this country. In the name of the people of the Gold Coast, in the name of humanity and in the name of Almighty God, I bid you speed forward till we realise a free and United Gold Coast in a United Africa,' he summed up.

Following the establishment of the Ghana National College, Dr Nkrumah began expanding the frontiers of education with the establishment of the Ghana Education Trust, which was charged to open secondary schools and teacher training colleges.

The trust was under the chairmanship of Rev. S. Nimako and the secondary schools it established included Mfantsiman Secondary School, Ofori Panyin Secondary School, Techiman Secondary School, the Winneba Secondary School, Swedru Secondary School, Apam Secondary School, Dormaa Secondary School, Tema Secondary School, Oda Secondary School, and the Labone Secondary School.

Indeed, students who entered those secondary schools would need teachers to impart knowledge. And in ensuring that this became a reality, the country’s First President went to initiate the setting up of teacher training colleges, about 16, of which he built.

The 16 included the Atebubu Training College, Berekum Training College, Fosu Training College and the Enchi Training College. These were complemented by the teacher training colleges built by religious bodies.

Dr Nkrumah also set up universities to provide higher level education with the establishment of the University of Cape Coast in 1962 to train teachers for secondary schools, training colleges, technical institutes, among others.

He set up the {Kwame Nkrumah University} of Science and Technology in 1952 and the Kwadaso College of Education to produce middle level manpower for the agriculture sector, and the School of Languages, Ajumako, among others. Indeed, before he was overthrown, Dr Nkrumah secured a parcel of land to put up a College of Agriculture at Somanya in the Greater Accra Region.

He was instrumental in the transformation of the University College of the Gold Coast to the University of Ghana. In the 1960-61 academic year, the College Council made a request to the Government of Ghana for legislation to constitute the University College into a university with the power to award its own degrees.

The Government appointed an International Commission to examine the problem. On the recommendations of that Commission, the University of Ghana was set up by an Act of Parliament on October 1, 1961 (Act 79). The then President of the Republic of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, became the first Chancellor of the university.

Dr Nkrumah attached great importance to the delivery and access to education in the country as a result of his rich educational background.

In 1961, he introduced free education for primary and middle schools to ensure that every child of school age had education. It must be noted that the Education Act of 1961 (Act 87), under the tenure of Dr Nkrumah, was reviewed only last year and replaced with the current education act.

The visionary did not only end there, but introduced a policy to supply free textbooks to schoolchildren in 1963.

He attended the Government Training College (which became part of Achimota College) in Accra in 1927 and obtained Teacher’s Certificate from the college in 1930.

He became a teacher in 1931 and was later promoted to be a head teacher at Catholic School Axim. In 1935, he studied at Lincoln University, USA, and obtained Bachelor of Arts (BA Arts) in 1939 and BA Theology in 1942.

In 1942, he received a Master of Science degree (Msc. in Education) from the University of Pennsylvania. He again received another Master’s degree, this time, in a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) from the University of Pennsylvania in February 1943.

He was also awarded a doctoral degree in law at Lincoln University and the most outstanding professor of the year by the Lincolonian in 1945.

Article : Emmanuel Bonney