British Empire Article

Courtesy of OSPA

by Geoffrey Winter (Senior Education Officer, Gold Coast, 1948-1954)
Education and Political Change
in the Gold Coast
Mawuli School, Accra
I arrived in the Gold Coast in March 1948 and was posted to the Provincial Education Office at Sekondi. I was really enjoying that part of my work concerned with inspecting schools in the Western Province which meant being away from the office for a week or so, reaching schools either by road or on foot. My longest day was when I walked nine miles to a school, Inspected it, walked the nine miles back to the Government rest-house and wrote my report late that night.

But this happy existence was shattered when I was ordered to the Headquarters of the Education Department. I was made responsible for all education finance involving grants to the missions and other educational units and the preparation of the annual education budget plus the administration of a large-scale building programme for new and extended secondary schools and teacher training colleges. Three years reading Modern Languages at Cambridge and war service as an infantry officer in Sicily, Italy and Germany, were hardly relevant previous experience but I managed to swim rather than sink.

Then came the Gold Coast's first step towards self-government. The Convention People's Party led by Kwame Nkrumah had a storming election victory. Kojo Botsio became Minister of Education and the Director of Education, Tom Barton, QBE, became Permanent Secretary. The vacancy for a Director of Education was filled by the transfer of the Director of Education of Trinidad and Tobago, Sidney Hogben, CBE, who had previously served in Northern Nigeria and Palestine.
Education and Political Change
in the Gold Coast
Ridge Church, Accra

Happily for me he was joined by his wife and his step-daughter, Fleur, who married me at the Ridge Church in Accra in April 1951. We are still together, now aged 92 and 86.

One of the most important promises in the CPP election manifesto was the immediate provision of fee-free primary education and the Director was charged with producing a plan to put this promise into immediate effect. It meant there would be a huge increase in the number of pupils. There were no qualified teachers to meet this demand and change could be effected only by an influx of unqualified teachers, mainly young people who had completed about nine to ten years of primary education.

The very considerable defects in this change were blindingly obvious to us all but the political will prevailed.

Education and Political Change
in the Gold Coast
Kojo Botsio
Sidney Hogben was responsible for the production of the Accelerated Development Plan for Education 1951. It was produced chapter by chapter, each being submitted in turn for Kojo Botsio's approval. To try to mitigate the great educational disadvantages of vast numbers of unqualified teachers, some palliative measures were included such as the appointment of a hundred Assistant Education Officers to give support to schools, the establishment of an Emergency Training College to provide short courses, and the use of suitable Head Teachers as mentors of unqualified teachers.

Sidney Hogben took the opportunity to include in the plan improvements in all branches of the education service. The plan and all the additional capital and recurrent funds needed were approved without demur by the new government. There followed a period of intense activity in its implementation. I was charged with devising a new system of financing post-primary education and, of course, the administration of the enlarged building programme.

I went on leave hoping for a move out of Head Office on my return. Instead I was told I had to concentrate for six months on writing a new Education Act and a Code of Statutory Regulations needed because of the plan. I picked up some ideas from previous legislation and also from the 1944 Education Act for England and Wales. I also worked in close contact with the officer in the Secretariat who was drafting a new system of local government. I finished the job though I felt that it would probably sink without trace. But in 1953 I was summoned to Accra. My draft was in the hands of the Law Officers who were querying the need for a provision which I had introduced with regard to the validation of title to land (which I was able to justify). The Act and the Code were then approved.

When we came home on leave in January 1954 we had a son and baby daughter. Our son, John, had been plagued with malaria and could not return to the Gold Coast. So I decided to retire and to enter educational administration in England. My hope was to become the Chief Education Officer of an English county. After working in Yorkshire, Northamptonshire and Birmingham, I was fortunate in becoming Chief Education Officer of the North Riding of Yorkshire, a wonderful county with a most supportive and non-partisan Education Committee.

Colonial Map
Map of Gold Coast, 1954
Colony Profile
Gold Coast Colony Profile
Originally Published
OSPA Journal 109: April 2015


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