St Monica’s Womens Teacher Training College

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In 1926, the Sisters of the Order of the Holy Paraclete from Whitby were invited to the then Gold Coast by Bishop Aglionby to teach in a Primary School in Cape Coast.

In 1929 the Educational Department asked if the sisters would begin the training of African women as teachers. There was little land available at St Monica’s Cape Coast so in January 6th 1929 two sisters travelled to Ashanti. They travelled to Kumasi by train then on to Mampong, driving through magnificent forests. Winding up the scarp, 1,500 feet high was very exciting. There was no girls’ school and no church in Mampong.

The next day they visited the Omanhene and the Queen Mother. Sister Mabel explained why they had come to Mampong. They were followed back to the Rest House by boys carrying gifts of food. In the evening the Queen Mother visited the sisters also bearing gifts. She told us that the Omanhene was very happy to give us land on which to build a Training College provided it had government approval.

In January 1930 a site of thirty acres had been cleared, plans passed and the building of St Monica’s School and the Convent of Our Lady and St. Monica was due to begin.

The Fantes who formed the bulk of the children in Cape Coast objected to the new location because it was in Ashanti. They also said that it was a very ‘bush’ place.Eventually the majority of the Boarders agreed to move to Mampong in August.The school quickly established itself but it was not officially opened until November 1931.

The newly opened Training College plus a day school of 45 children stayed at Cape Coast. The sisters had £20 in the bank and there were 16 leaks in the roof. In 1931 the sisters were able to move to better premises in Aboom Road.

Little is recorded about those first few years. The Training College moved to Mampong in 1936, leaving only a day school for girls’ in Cape Coast.

A small day school was opened on the edge of the compound in Mampongfor local children. It was used as the practice school for the college. It was called St Andrew’s University!

1946 – This year the first Secondary School in Ashanti was opened. For many years it was to share buildings with the Training College.

A new Board of Governors had been formed. It met on July 20th. Those present were: Sister Monica, Sister Eileen, Sister Mary Dorothea, Sister Helen Mary, Miss Wellsing, Archdeacon Martinson, Mr Opoku, Mr Buckman and Mr Yankah.The College of African Teachers asked to be represented on the Board. This was vetoed as unusual and inadvisable

The General Manager/ Supervisor did a huge amount of travelling. She had been provided with a car. The work had progressed in an amazing way. The Bishop took no active part in the ECM and was holding up the development.

1947 – The Training College and Secondary School are now properly housed. They have good classrooms and dormitory houses.

The academic standard has risen considerably. This is partly due to the increase in the number of European Staff. There was still a shortage of trained Ghanaian teachers. The students worked hard and were also keen to do well.

As well as water shortages, lack of electricity leading to poor lighting, caused many problems.

The secondary pupils were a small group and shared equally in College activities but they have a separate dormitory. They were under the care of Mrs Welsing.

In 1948 there were 88 students in the training College. The students were working hard and the standard of English was improving. Training College and School pupils now have separate houses and classrooms.One of the biggest difficulties was that there was a constant shortage of water.

Students were encouraged to join in evening and weekend activities together.Sr Eileen organised a dramatic society and Sr Monica a Choral society. Sr Mabel suggested that more should be done about teaching craft both at St Monica’s and St Andrews Men’s Training College which had been recently opened in Mampong. There were two masses on Sunday but Chapel was still impossibly full.There was an anti- British feeling in town but it had not affected the students.

1951 – Sisters in Whitby were always interested in what was happening in Ghana. It was a struggle to make ends meet and financial help was given from Whitby. There was constant change in the Educational system. The Board of Governors was proving an asset. They had gained denominational recognition for the College from the Government so it was now officially an Anglican College. They had also appealed to the Government for new galvanised water tanks and a new dormitory.

The Training College would remain a 4 year course even though new Educational laws had stated that all colleges should have a two year course. The new ruling was that girls leaving Middle School must do one year pupil teaching before they could sit the entrance exam to Training College. They would then do a 2 year Training to gain a Teaching Certificate B. They could then do another years teaching in a primary school. They could then apply for entrance to Training College to do certificate A. This was also for two years. These students would be carefully chosen and only the best would be admitted. Miss Clarke, a member of staff felt strongly that the women should not have to do the years teaching between the B and A certificate because many would not return. Each student received a salary of £60 per month plus £12 cost of living bonus. They pay no tuition fees but the College deducted boarding fees from the allowance.

1953 – In January 60 new students would be admitted to the College. There had been 400 applicants. The total number of students would be 150.

The exam results for the year before were:

4 1st Class. 14 2nd Class and 6 3rd class certificates.

Three new dormitory blocks, a new dining room and three new classrooms were nearing completion.

January1954 – Sister Mary Dorothea was Principal of the Training College, Sr. Barbara Maude was Vice-principal.Sr. Francis Clare was headmistress of the Secondary School, Sr. Barbara was deputy head.

In April, the sisters had again asked the Education Department if the Training College and Secondary School could be run as two separate institutions. The request was refused. They would only accept one person as principal. Sr Mary Dorothea was chosen as head but each institution was organised separately though still sharing buildings.

By August it was felt that there was an even greater need to separate College and School. Teachers were expected to teach in both and that was becoming increasingly difficult. Another problem was that it was difficult to find enough schools in the area where students could go for teaching practice.

When students were out on teaching practice they were not able to teach their lessons in the school. All students had to teach Twi in schools. This also presented a problem for some as students came from all over Ghana and so not all of them spoke Twi. They were given extra lessons in Twi to enable them to teach.

A new 8000 gallon water tank was installed in September for the new college year. This made a huge difference to the water supply.

1955 – Sister Frances Clare was very concerned about the number of girls who became pregnant. If this happened they were asked to leave. Two students had had an abortion. Many girls lived in difficult circumstances and were subject to a lot of temptation during the holidays. The pregnancy was not always their fault. It was decided that when this happened girls/students would be allowed to stay as long as possible and return when they could. They would have separate accommodation so that they did not sleep in the dormitory and they would be under the care of a sister.

1956 – This year there were 175 students some studying for cert B and some for Cert A. They enjoyed an outing to Kumasi to see the film The Robe. The Cert A group also visited the North including the animal welfare station at Pong Tamale.

1957 – Sister Beatrice was now Principal. The Cert A exam results were satisfactory. There had been five grade A passes and no failures. Only one student failed the Cert B exam. Twenty two of these were returning to work for the Cert A certificate.

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Political tensions were high. In the run up to Independence Ashanti had declared its intention of refusing to accept independence with the rest of the colony. They wished to remain outside the new state of Ghana unless certain parts of the Constitution were changed. There was unrest and uncertainty. Stocks of fuel and food were collected in case of emergency but there were no problems on the compound.

1958 – The College was running well. Sister Beatrice appealed for another sister to be sent to the training College to teach academic subjects. The year began with two hundred and forty students.

It was now the Government’s intention to separate colleges and schools. They wanted to build a new Training College off the Mampong compound and leave the present buildings for the School. The sisters would not agree to this. They wished the college to remain at Mampong. Also the buildings were not suitable for the development needed for the school.

1959 – It was agreed that the Training College could stay but nothing was being done to provide new school buildings. The Chapel had been enlarged but it was still too small. Buildings use for Art were altered so that College and School each had their own Art room.

Exam results were poor. It was felt that the marking was unbalance and too few marks were given for the practical work which in the end was the most important part.

1960 – The College was filled to capacity with 183 students and eleven staff. Exam results were poor across the country. Teachers were finding that students were coming in from some schools where they had not been well taught and their work was not a high enough standard to cope with the College work.In February it was announced at the Board of Governors’ meeting that £12500 pounds was to be allocated to build a new Training College. There was great rejoicing.

1961 – The first qualified Art lecturer began work in January. Miss Catherine Amissah left the staff after many years of service. She was first educated at St Monica’s Cape Coast.Sister Constance and Mr Boatengwere producing sets of English lessons for beginners to be used in school broadcasts.

It was very difficult by this time to get enough qualified staff. Compulsory primary education had come into force throughout the country. Schools were needing to expand. More teachers were needed so Training Colleges needed to expand. Forty students would begin the Cert B course in September.

1962 – Because of the need for extra teachers there were now two hundred and sixteen students in college. The classrooms were very overcrowded. Six new tutors had been appointed.

In September a new continuous four year course began. By the following year St Monica’s would be a two stream Cert A course colleges taking fifty new students each year. More work needed to be done on the actual teaching of teaching method and items of cultural value. More time needed to be spent on teaching students to teach and control a class rather than academic subjects. New syllabuses are being prepared. The students will finally be examined externally on their practical ability to teach.

By December there were four new members of staff. There were now four ex St Monica’s Student on the staff. This was a great achievement. It was still impossible to find a qualified teacher of PE.

1963 – The Education Department again began to talk about moving the College to a new site. Sr Frances Clare sent a letter to President Kwame Nkrumah giving reason why this was not a good plan. Again she said that the buildings they would vacate were not suitable for the school.

Because of teaching shortages the ratio of staff to students had increased form one member of staff to twelve students to fifteen students. The college was still short of three members of staff including one for PE. The stumbling block for many students was the lack of understanding of English. Many came from village school where they had mainly been taught in their own language.

The curriculum for the new four year course had still not been completed. It was hoped that students would have some choice in the subjects they were examined in. Twenty six out of twenty nine passed the final exam. Three of the fails were only deferred in one subject.

The new Housecraft block in now finished, completely equipped and in use. The library and apparatus store were also finished.

A National Pledge has been introduced. It has to be part of every daily assembly in all school and colleges.

1964 – There was a complete staff except for a PE teacher. Two hundred and fifteen students began the year. Sister Nancye joined the staff this year. Two students represented the College at the National Athletics meeting. A tableaux of the life of St Monica and a Christmas play were produced by Miss Mingle. She left at the end of that term.

1965 – Once again many new students came in with a very low academic standard stemming from lack of good teaching rather than their own ability. The year was divided into two streams so that each one could be taught at their own pace and the better students did not feel that they were being held back.

1966 – There were eleven new members of staff in September making a total of seventeen members of staff. Three were sisters and two VSO’s.

Young women were applying for college who have not been pupil teachers and have been out of school for some years. This again causes a problem as they needed extra help. Some of the 4th years students have asked if they could take some GCE subjects. While this would be a great benefit to them for the future it was not easy to fit into the timetable and puts extra strain on the staff.

Due to rising costs everywhere, students were asked to pay extra for their food. This was not popular and caused considerable unrest but they finally accepted the situation.

1967 – Sr Nancye began the year as principal.This year 268 students were in College. Only nine were Anglicans.Seven members of staff left in July including the VSO’s. These will be replaced. VSO’s were young and enthusiastic. Most of them had just completed University so they had no experience.

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A group of students had to be asked to leave because they could not cope with the work. It was clear that they had cheated in the entrance exam or else someone had sat the exam for them. Other colleges were facing the same problem. To deal with this, colleges were given authority to have an internal entrance exam one month after term began. Anyone who failed this exam would leave.Exams results were still poor. Out of fifty three who entered only twenty one had a full pass.

Work began on a new college dining room and kitchen September last, and they were still not completed. A new post of Domestic Bursar has been created. A small bungalow was built for her. One of last years’ VSO’s, Miss Dean, has returned for a second year. At the end of the year she left and became a sister OHP. There were two VSO’s one teaching music and one PE. The later had tremendous enthusiasm and energy and was motivating the students. Sister Bernadette and Sr Patricia taught full time.

A big change which had caused problems and anger amongst students was that, from this year students were no longer given a study allowance. Grants for Board and tuition are paid directly to the College.

1968 – Enrolment stood at 257 students. The exam now known as ‘the throwing out exam’ was taken. As a result four students had to leave.Forty four out of sixty seven passed the Cert A exam. This is still not a high enough pass. Some passed individual subjects in GCE. Special mention was made of Florence Anwhere who was an outstanding Senior Student. She took her responsibilities with maturity and wisdom. She wentto live and teach at St Monica’s Cape Coast.

Sisters have found this year a strain as there has been a lot of dishonesty and lack of co-operation and even a breakdown in order in times of crisis. The young Ghanaian members of staff found it hard to maintain discipline. They were not much older than the students. In spite of this there were many students who did stand out because of their reliability, helpfulness, courtesy and cheerfulness.

Sadly there has always been a sense of inferiority on the part of the Training College. Especially since the Secondary School became a separate Institution with new buildings. They felt that they have better facilities and more support. Again there was the question of should the Training College move away. It was not considered a good idea. Sr Beatrice said that there had been this sense of rivalry since the beginning.

1969 – Having built more training Colleges when there was a shortage of teachers it was now Government policy to reduce the number of Training Colleges from eighty two to thirty. All of them would be reduced to a two year course.

1971 – The Training College was considered the best in the country. This was a wonderful achievement.Sr Nancye was principal and had a fully Ghanaian staff.

The contracts of both the principal and the Headmistress would expire in 1974. Was this the point at which OHP would withdraw from the work, knowing that there were trained teachers who could now take over the running of both institutions? Sister Patricia was transferred to the School. This cause great distress in the College as she was an excellent teacher and popular member of staff.

1972 – In September Fr Warmoll who had been Chaplain for some years had to return to England because of ill health. Sr Rachel worked in the Bursar’s Office until Mr Van Dyke was appointed by the Ministry of Education.The exam results this year were very good. Sixty eight out of seventy passed the Cert A exam. A larger number of students also passed a number of subjects at GCE.

1973 – The work began on the building of a new Art Department. Alterations were also being made to the dormitories.

1974 – Changes in Education were again being made. This year, the college changed back from a two stream Cert A College to a single stream course. Alongside this there would be two year Art Course for already qualified teachers. Twenty five teachers will be on the first course.Additional qualified lectures will be needed. Accommodating them will be a major problem.

1975
In September the College was converted to a Post Secondary College with a Specialist Art Course. It was a great honour to be chosen as one of the three new Post Secondary Colleges. Sr Nancye would develop this course before she resigned as Principal.

Sister Nancye relinquished the post of principal in August. The Ministry have asked if she will try to find a new Principal.New buildings were needed and money was available but it was proving difficult to gain building permission.