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.
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.
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
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
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.