ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENTS IN COLONIAL GHANA
In 1926 Allan McPhee described what he called. The Economic Revolution in British West Africa (including Ghana) in the following terms: ’English capital has come in and built the railways and constructed the harbours and cleared the channels; it has also introduced new cultures and improved old ones; it has built roads and towns and established markets; it has introduced banks and convenient currency; it has exploited minerals. More than this, English government has brought peace and abolished slavery. The result is an enormous expansion of trade in which the natives perform their part and reaped their reward’.
Although to a certain extent we can accept McPhee’s assertion, we at the same time have to note that these developments took pace in order to help the British exploit the rich natural resources of British West Africa, and for that matter the Gold Coast. This assertion could well be appreciated if it - is considered against the background that when the British Parliament finally decided to take control of the coastal settlements, and thus inaugurated the Crown Colony period, the Gold Coast was known to have economic value, since: (1) it could produce tropical commodities in demand in English markets; (2) it possessed considerable mineral deposits of gold and - as later discovered, diamonds, manganese, and bauxite; (3) it could provide an expanding market for British manufactured goods, especially cotton textiles.
Agriculture received a great deal of attention as export agriculture became the dominant economic activity* in much of southern Ghana from the latter part the of nineteenth century. Cash crops, such as cocoa, rubber and palm oil constituted the economic bedrock which made substantial contribution, in monetary terms, to the country’s economy. From a revenue of £6 Is for 121 lb of cocoa beans exported by Tetteh Quashie in 1885, the next export of 80 lb in 1891 yielded £4. Export of cocoa shot up to 2 million lb in 1901 and fetched £43,000. In 1911, the output increased to 88.9 million lb valued at £6 million, which constituted about 46 per cent of the country’s total export earnings. As the demand for cocoa on the world market continued to rise, more farmers entered the industry so that by 1935, a total of 950,000 acres of land was under cultivation. Between 1913 and 1935 these cocoa exports increased thirteen times. In 1951, the cocoa crop alone contributed about two-thirds of the total export earnings of Ghana.
The phenomenal development of the industry was due exclusively to Ghanaian enterprise, as all the beans were produced from the farms of Ghanaians. However, the Colonial Government promoted its growth. For instance, the Governor, Sir William B. Griffith imported cocoa pods from San Tome in 1886 and started off a nursery at Aburi from which seedlings were supplied to the farmers. Under his direction scientific information on the cultivation of cocoa was published for the guidance of farmers interested in ’that remunerative industry’. It is possible therefore that, but for this encouragement the farmers would have preferred the cultivation of other crops and all the revenue accrued from cocoa exports would have been lost. Governor Griffith also established the Aburi Botanic Gardens to teach people to cultivate economic plants in a systematic manner for export and to introduce new cash crops that could be cultivated with advantage.
Thus cocoa became the mainstay of Ghana’s economy (fetching an amount of £11,727, 566, about 82% of the total value of the country’s exports in 1927), although products such as palm oil, rubber and banana were also being exported. The export of the latter which began in 1934 saw 59,000 bunches exported in 1937.6 In 1941, the Colonial Administration launched a rubber production campaign and in 1942, the output of rubber reached 2,040 tonnes -the highest export of the product since the beginning of the twentieth century. On its part, palm oil and kernel accounted for 44% and 48% of the total value of Ghana’s exports in 1890 and 1901 respectively. Earlier in 1884, some 20,000 tonnes of palm oil and 40,000 tonnes of palm kernels were exported.
To ensure the production of quality crops, agricultural stations and experimental farms were established at such places as Christiansborg and Pong-Tamale. The stations experimented with the cultivation^of coconut, cotton, oil palm, rubber and cocoa on plantation basis. The government also set up organs such as the Agricultural Department, Agriculture Development Corporation and the Gonja Development Company to diversify and mechanize agriculture as well as make available, improved seedlings to farmers. For instance in 1947, the Agriculture Department supplied the Western Region with 31,000 coconut seedlings.8 The Department also maintained a sheanut tree reserve near Yendi, where^ trials with die effects of cultivation on wild trees resulted in a marked increase of yield after 1932.9.
The efforts of the Colonial Administration to improve the protein deficiency in the diet of the people led to the importation of cattle from Upper Volta (Burkina Faso). The number of cattle thus increased from 13 7^000 in 1930 to 219,000 in 1938. A new Veterinary Station was also opened at Pong Tarnale in the Northern Region to control livestock diseases. A scheme was therefore put in place under which a cattle owner paid the sum of Is for. each animal he brought to an immunization camp and received £1 for each. death." Soon, rinderpest was completely eliminated in Northern Ghana as well as the south-east coastal plains where initially the Veterinay Department did not give attention to. In 1942, "mixed fanning" experimental stations were established in the Lawra-Na and Keta-Ada districts. A project for the development of a Yendi.
Native Administration stock farm for the breeding of cattle was also started. By 1945 therefore, cattle rearing was on the increase. The increase notwithstanding, livestock breeding by this time was still largely in peasant hand divorced from modem techniques. More attention was then given in 1946 to the production of livestock such as sheep, goats, pigs and poultry at centres in Accra and Sekondi. In the same year, the facilities belonging to an Army Pig Farm at Nima was taken over by the Department of Agriculture. The result of this ’show of interest’ in the industry was that by 1948, the country could boast of 300,000 herd of cattle, mainly in the Northern Region and the Accra plains and southern Eweland which boasted of 5,000.13 Despite these achievements, the country had to rely on imports to be able to cater for the needs of the people.
Until 1860 when Thomas Hughes imported heavy machinery to begin mechanized mining in the Wassa district, gold mining was in the hands of the local people who used the traditional methods of panning and shallow digging. Hughes’ effort however did not move to the production stage as he was suddenly ordered by the Chiefs (landowners) to end his enterprise; though he was believed to have struck a rich gold field by 1861. The next attempt at scientific mining of gold was made in 1877 when J. Bonnat, the French national’s company - the African Gold Coast Company, started operation in 1878. Soon, the industry attracted three new companies, Messrs. Swanzy and Co., the Effuenta Gold Mining Co., and the Gold Coast Mining Company. By 1882, the stamping or crushing of ores was started at the Effuenta mines. The success story of these mining concerns, especially the Effuenta Gold Mining Company sparked off a rush into the industry by both individuals and corporate bodies. Most of these prospectors however succumbed to the realities of the mining industry and by 1882, only six of them, namely: the ’Swanzy mines’ of Messrs. F. and A. Swanzy and Co., Aboso Gold Mining Co. (French), Gold Coast (Abontiakoon) Mining Co., the African Gold Coast Co., the Effuenta Gold Mining Co., and the Tarkwa Gold Mines Co., still operated.
As interest in gold prospecting continued to mount, the Colonial Administration sent one Eyre, who, after visiting some areas in Southern Ghana in 1888 produced a lengthy and encouraging report on ’the auriferous properties of the Winneba District’. In 1883 one European prospector Vesenmayer, was extracting gold from both alluvium and quartz at Mankoadze, about 4 miles west of Winneba but his inability to obtain a Certificate of Validity shattered a dream of exclusive rights to gold mining in the area. Nevertheless, the Administration awarded Certificates of Validity over areas in Southern Ghana with gold potentials to private companies. One such area was Akim Abuakvva where the Goldfields of Eastern Akim Ltd. started work on the auriferous beds in the 1890s.
The industry continued to attract more investors. E. A. Cade, one of such investors, and his firm, Smith and Cade Company in 1895 bought their concessions from the Fante entrepreneurs, J. E. Ellis, J. E. Biney, and J. P. Brown who had already started production at Obuasi on a generous scale in 1890. Though the transaction received approval from the Chiefs of Bekwai and Adanse almost immediately, it was not until 1897 that the Colonial" Office endorsed the transaction. This led to the setting up of the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation which has turned out to operate one of the richest gold mines in the world. AGC’s success sparked off once again, the influx of prospectors in Asante and Akyem so that by 1901 as many as 3,500 concessions had been taken up. However, most of these folded up within a year or two reducing the number to 114 by 1904. Even of this number, just about 40 were in real successful business.
Included in the concessions taken up were a few consisting of stretches of rivers, on which dredges operated. Dredging on the middle and lower reaches of the Ankobra was taken up in 1904 by the Ankobra (Tarkwa and Aboso) Dredging Company and the West Africa Mining and Dredging Company respectively, while dredging in the Birim Valley was in the hands of two companies - Pritchards Dredging Company and Birim Valley Gold Mining and Dredging Company. On the Offin (near Dunkwa) were two mining concerns -Ashanti Goldfields Auxiliary Ltd. and the Offin River Gold Estates Ltd. Other mining companies which worked during the Colonial period were, the Marlu Gold Mining Areas Ltd. which worked at the old Bogosu mine, about ten miles north-west of Prestea, the Bibiani Gold Mines Ltd. and the Ashanti-Adowsena (Banket) Goldfields Ltd. which operated in Ntronang, about 50 miles south-east of Kumasi. Messrs. McGuinnes and Reid also operated a mine at Nangodi in the present Upper Region in 1933.
The result of all these mining activities was that from an initial export of about 60,000 oz in 1901 and 71,000 oz in 1902, it steadily rose to 104,000 oz in 1904. By 1911 gold had taken the second spot on the country’s exports list with 280,000 oz. valued at £1 million which constituted 30 per cent of the nation’s exports. In 1940 it reached an all time high of 24,976.4 kilogrammes valued at more than £9 million. "The Colonial Administration gave attention to the mining of diamonds on a commercial scale. This followed the discovery of diamonds early in 1919 in an area in the Birim basin by the Director of the Geological Survey Department, E. A. Kitson. The Birim basin diamond fields cover an area of 1,036 square kilometres18 This includes Atiankama, Subinsa, Supong, Abansa, and Esubone drainage19 which were given in concession to Diamond Fields of Eastern Akim Ltd., whose first export of 102 carats was made to Britain in 1920. A second diamond field - the Bonsa diamond field, was discovered by the same department in 1922. Diamond was concentrated in an area about fourteen miles wide, stretching from an area near Tarkwa to Simpa. The area attracted mostly Ghanaian miners who started brisk business from 1933. The production from these two mines improved until it reached an all time record of 1,577,661 carats in 1937. This made Ghana the third largest producer of diamonds in the world and earned £684,057 for the state.
With regard to bauxite, the Geological Survey Department made several discoveries. The first discovery was made at Mpraeso in 1914. Located on top of Mt. Ejuanema, its reserves were estimated to be about 4 million tons. The second and the largest was made in 1920 at Yenahin, situated 40 miles west of Kumasi in the hills near Chichiwere and Mpraeso. Other areas where the mineral was discovered were the hills 4 to 6 miles North-North-East of Sefwi Bekwai (1921), in the hills east of the Bia river near Asempanaeye (1922) and on the Atewa-Atwiredu Range near Kibi (1919 and 1928). Despite the huge reserves (estimated at 229 million tons) the Colonial Administration did not seem very keen about its extraction, probably because Britain obtained bauxite from a much cheaper" source in Indonesia in .the 1920s and 1930s. Mining therefore started late (1941) in Setwi Bekwai. Between 1947 - 4948, 92,520 tons were mined which increased to 147,470 tons between 1948 and 1949. The value was £262,662 and £274,701 respectively.
Mining of manganese started after 1913, though the Colonial Office knew of its existence at Nsuta. Production was taken up by African Manganese Company (formally Wasaw Exploring Syndicate), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation of the US. The company made the first shipment of ore from its Dagwin Extension Concessions (which covered the Dagwin-Nsuta deposits) in September 1916. Output improved steadily from 139,595 tons in 1923 to 419,224 tons in 1929. After a sharp decline in output in 1932, it rose again and reached 596,828 tons between 1947 - 1948, Ine value for this was £2,301,250. In 1948 - 1949,670,168 tons were mined which amounted to £3,006,758. In 1951, Ghana exported 806,000 tons (at a value of £7 million) which made her the second largest producer in the world.
Up to 1890, what could only be fairly described as roads were the Accra-Kpong road, the military road from Cape Coast to Praso, the coastal road from Elmina to Cape Coast, and that from Shama to Tarkwa." The turning point in road construction came when in 1890, the Governor, W. B. Griffith appointed an Inspector of Trade Roads. The Inspector’s first project was to convert the 25 miles of bush track between Anyako behind the Keta lagoon and Kpeve and the busy track between Cape Coast and Anomabo into good roads. With the replacement of the Roads Department (formed in 1895) with the Public Works Department, the construction of more roads was undertaken. A major obstacle to the Government’s road construction programme, however, was the supply of labour. To solve it, two Ordinances were passed: the Road Ordinance of 1894 which required chiefs to clear bush paths quarterly for a stipend of 10* per mile; and the mild Compulsory Labour Ordinance of 1895 which replaced the harsh Public Labour Ordinance of 1882. The law empowered the chiefs to compel their people to work on the roads.
The Public Works Department pressed on with its programme and constructed several new important trade roads between 1895 and the end of the century. One of the roads built was that from Debisu to Warn through the Akonansa forest in western Brong-Ahafo, which was opened to traffic in 1899. Prior to this, the construction of the Saltpond-Oda road had been carried to a distance of 15 miles, and 120 miles of the trade road along the right bank of the Volta between Kpong and Tinkranku had been surveyed. Work on a road from Accra through Nsawam and Apedwa to Ktbi had begun; a wooden bridge was to be constructed across the Sweet River between Elmina and Cape Coast. Ghana experienced another ’revolution’ in road construction when in his address to the Legislative Council in 1901, Governor Nathan announced a new policy for road construction which would ensure the provision of roads capable of accommodating motor-cars and traction engine Consequently, in 1902, the Goldfields of Eastern Akim Ltd. with assistance from Government began an 18-foot vehicle road from Saltpond to Oda, while the Accra-Ayi Mensah-Dodowa road was converted into a 16-foot vehicle road and partly remetalled. In 1908, the Winneba-Swedru road was reconstructed to boost the production of cocoa in the Winneba district.
To open the Ada-Keta district,- the Anyako-Wute-Sesakpe road (36 miles) was built. Others were the Afienyingbe - Whenyi road (15I miles), and the Denu-Dokplata road (23 miles). These roads were also meant to ensure that agricultural produce from the district was shipped from ports under British Administration and not from the port of Lome in German Togolantl. Other short stretches of roads were constructed throughout southern Ghana and by 1911 over 2,000 miles of bush road were being maintained by the chiefs under the Roads Ordinance of 1894. Road construction in Asante and Brong-Ahafo was started in earnest after 1910, even though construction of two important ones: the Yeji-Krachi and Kumasi-Yeji roads had started in 1906 and 1909 respectively. Between 1911 and 1925, roads in this region experienced phenomenal improvement with about 150 miles of roads built or rebuilt annually. Those worth mentioning were: Ntonsu-Efiduasi; Kumasi to Bompata-Goaso-Wenchi and Sunyani, Bekwai to Vlanso Nkwanta to Kintampo; Obuasi to the Pra through Banka, Nkoranza-Kintampo and Sunyani to Wenchi. Two other roads that need mention were the Kumasi-Bompata and Kumasi-Sunyani roads. The Kumasi - Bompata road for instance was not the only road along which cocoa from a large part of Asante-Akyem was transported to Kumasi, but it linked Kumasi and the main road from Accra, through Nkawkaw, to the south-eastern border of Asante.
In the Eastern Region, all the major roads had been completed by 1916. They included the Koforidua-Mpraeso (1915), the Krobo Plantations road, and the, Nsawam-Asamankese road which was very busy during the cocoa season. Also completed was the long road from Accra through Dodowa and Akuse to Kpong. So rapid was the progress of road construction that by 1925, there were 1,306 miles of motorable roads in the Region as compared with about 145 miles in 1911. Between 1925 and 1936, the PWD restricted itself on re-aligning, regrading and consolidating existing roads. The road constructed in the Central and Western Regions followed a similar development. In the case of the former, all major roads from the port to j the interior had been completed and opened to traffic by 1916. In 1920, the Nsawam-Cape-Coast-Sekondi road to link up the principal road running from north to south was operational. Roads in the Western Region, notably Dunkwa to Wiawsp, Tarkwa to Enchi and Sekondi through Axim to Half Assini had all I been completed by 1925.
The Northern Region did not enjoy a tremendous improvement in road network until 1897 when Colonel Northcott was appointed British J Commissioner and Commandant of Northern Ghana. Through his initiative, orders were issued out to District Commissioners to start the rebuilding of the I main trade routes, making them 14 feet wide, ditched on either side and raised I above the general level of the surrounding countryside. The roads that benefitted from this drive between 1898 and 1899 were the Zoguiri-Walewale-Gambaga route and the 70-mile road from Wuyima on the White Volta to Daganga through Gambaga. The accessibility of Gambaga and its market potentials were enhanced from this period. A more detailed programme for road transport improvement was drawn up23 after 1902 by which time, Britain and Germany had agreed on common frontiers in Togo land and Northern Ghana and with the northern Ivory Coast and Upper Volta (Burkina Faso).
Among the roads which received attention after 1902 was the one which linked Gambaga (then the Administrative headquarters) with Salaga, through Karaga, Patenga and Yendi. Others were the Wa-Gambaga and Yeji-Salaga roads which were completed in 1904 and the all-weather, Prang-Tamale-Gambaga and Tamale-Bple roads which were ready in the 1920s and 1930s respectively.On rail transport, railway construction started in 1898 after a series of surveys by Messrs. Barham, W. Shelford and Foord and Captain Lang. On raising the necessary capital through the Railway Loan Ordinance (No. 6 of 1898) and the Railways Ordinance (No. 7 of 1898), the project started off in earnest and by 1901, it had reached Tarkwa from Sekondi. The line reached Obuasi in 1902 and extended to Kumasi in 1903, a total distance of 168 miles. A branch line - the Tarkwa - Prestea line, was constructed between 1908 and 1911. The Accra-Kumasi line was started in 1909 and completed in 1923 due to delays caused by the First World War. In the same year (i.e. 1923), work was started on the Central Region railway from Huni Valley to Kade. It was opened to traffic in December 1927. Though plans were put in place in 1927 to link Northern Ghana by rail to the rest of the country through Kumasi, the project never took off because it was not considered economically viable. A common feature of the development of railways in Ghana was that they passed through all the major mining centres (see map at page 110).
To facilitate exports, the Guggisberg Administration completed the construction of the Takoradi Harbour in 1928. It consisted of two break-waters enclosing 220 acres of water, transit sheds, open storage accommodation for 40,000 tons of bagged cocoa, and cranes built on the deep-water and lighter wharfs. Prior to its construction, ships anchored in the existing break-waters at Sekondi and at bays and creeks of small ports in areas like Accra, Saltpond and Winneba. Air transport was also developed. In 1947, the West African Airways Corporation became operational, serving the four British West African territories of the Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. It provided internal air services within Ghana as well as links with other countries.
Telecommunication also received the attention of the Colonial Government. In 1882, the first permanent telegraph line of two and half miles was erected to link Accra to Christiansborg. By 1939, about 5,000 miles of telegraph lines and approximately 10,000 miles of trunk telephone lines had become operational in the country. To improve overseas communication, by 1933 the Administration had linked Accra to Liverpool by a cable wireless. Radio communication was taken care of and developed and expanded during the 1930s and 1940s. And with the construction of transmission stations in major towns, broadcasting started with the establishment of Station ZOY (now GBC). The programmes of the station put emphasis on education, social and commercial announcements and entertainment.
Banking and Currency
The growth of legitimate trade in the early decades of the 19th Century led to the replacement of traditional currencies such as salt, beads, cloth - money and iron money with foreign coins, such as Spanish or South American silver dollar, the French five-franc piece, the German "thaler" (exchange value 4s. 6d.) Bind British Silver Shilling. By the Ordinance No.2 of 1880 (Demonitization Minance), the Government on 29th April, 1880 restricted the range of currency circulation to the following: "all gold and British sterling", Spanish and South American doubloons (worth £4.2s), French franc pieces (worth 15s) and gold dust and nuggets (worth £1.2s per ounce). As a result of problems encountered in the use of different medium of exchange, e.g. fraudulent weighing and lack of standardized gold weight and the adulteration of gold in circulation as currency, an attempt was made by the Government for the adoption of "modern money" as the sole medium of exchange. Consequently, in April 1889, another Ordinance was introduced to demonitize gold dust and nuggets and with that, the last of the traditional currencies was effectively phased out. British florins and shillings thus came to tv used to pay for virtually all goods and services.
With the emergence of modern economy in the Gold Coast in the last decades of the nineteenth century, the need for more efficient system of commercial transactions and other economic activities became evident. The Colonial Administration therefore opened in June 1896, a branch of the Bank of British West Africa Ltd., in Accra. The Bank had the monopoly to import British Silver Coins and carry out Government Account. On January 1, 1897, it opened its doors to the public for business.24 A branch of the Bank was opened at Sekondi in 1902 and Kumasi in 1906. By 1907, the BBWA25 had additional branches established in Cape Coast and Axim. Besides these branches, the bank had by this period opened agencies at Obuasi, Winneba, Saltpond and Tarkwa.
By 1916, the BBWA had ten branches and two more agencies at Half Assini and j Prestea.Due to complains about the BBWA’s monopoly over the supply of new silver coin to West Africa by interested parties including the Bank of Nigeria (1905), the Secretary of State Lewis Harcourt appointed a 7-member committee to look into the question of special currency for British West Africa. Chaired by Lord Emmot, the Committee recommended that a special silver currency shpuld be issued for use in West Africa. It also recommended the establishment of a currency Board to control it. Consequently, the West African Currency Board was appointed in November, 1912. The Board was to act as a money-changing institution for sterling against the West African Pound and vice-versa. In 1915 the Board took control over the pence, half-pence and tenth-pence introduced in the Gold Coast in 1912. To make up for short fall in British Silver Coins to finance the marketing of the extraordinarily large crop harvest in the cocoa industry in 1915, imperial treasury Notes were declared by Ordinance no. 27 of 1915. "The Notes were to be legal tender at their face value in the colony for the payment of any amount. By the end of December 1916, there was approximately £37,000 of Imperial British Currency Notes in circulation in the Gold Coast. The Colonial Administration issued the first West African Currency notes in September 1916. By the end of the year, approximately £14,750 of the Notes were in circulation.
The BBWA’s monopoly was broken when the Colonial Bank Acts of 1856, 1898, 1900, 1916 and 1917 gave the Colonial Bank authority to carry on business in any part of the world. In 1917 the Bank opened branches at Accra and Sekondi. In 1919 four more branches were opened at Winneba, Nsawam, Koforidua and Kumsi. To encourage cocoa farmers especially to save outside their homes, the Colonial Administration established rural savings Banks. The number of such banks, numbering 42 in 1923 rose to 71 in 1929-30, 77 in 1932 and 79 in 1933. By 1933 total deposits in the savings Banks stood at £18,260.89. In 1925 the Colonial Bank joined Barclays Bank, the Anglo-Egyptia Bank and the National Bank of South Africa to form a new Bank: Barclays Ba D.C.O. (Dominion Colonial and Overseas). Under pressure from the nationalists, the Colonial Administration established the Bank of the Gold Coast in 1953 to offer banking services and provide credit facilities generally and more readily to indigenous businessmen.
Though the Christian Missionaries had already laid a foundation by the establishment of educational institutions, the British Administration must also be given credit for its role in not only sustaining what they (Missionaries) had done, but continuing to build upon it. The first step taken by the government towards educational development was the passage of "An Ordinance to provide for the better education of the inhabitants of Her Majesty’s forts and settlements on the Gold Coast’ (No. 1 of 1852).37 The Ordinance, which came into effect during the Governorship of Stephen Hill was to ensure the ’diffusion’ of the benefits derived from the Castle Schools to cover a large number of those of school going age. It was also thought ’essentially necessary that some effort should be made to educate the rising generation of females’.
The scheme was to be financed with an estimated £1,000 (annually) from the proceeds of the Poll Tax introduced earlier in the year. When the scheme started, the Rev. C. S. Hassells, the Colonial Chaplain was appointed Superintendent and Inspector of Schools to "ensure as far as may be the requisite supply of good and efficient teachers by his own personal training" A small number of teachers were sent to open schools in Eastern and Western Wassa and Akyem. Their salaries of £1 a month was paid from the Poll Tax revenue. With pride, the Acting Governor, Connor reported: "Education here has now a separate department with its own head.’ However, it soon collapsed due, primarily to lack of funds (as the people refused to honour the tax), disease and death.
Still determined to develop education among citizens of her settlements the British Parliament appointed J. S. Laurie in 1868 to present a report on "the state of education in the West African Settlements", This was the first such enquiry to be made. A new Ordinance was promulgated in 1882 to be followed by the more workable Education Ordinance of 1887. Under the 1887 Ordinance which remained in force, though amended, for forty years, two categories of primary schools were envisaged - ’government’ and ’assisted’. To be closely monitored by the newly-created Board of Education, the ’assisted’ schools were to receive grants from the public funds when they satisfied certain criteria. These included the admission of all children, regardless of race or religion, running of subjects which must include ’Reading and Writing of the English Language.
Arithmetic and in case of females, Plain Needlework’, and an average attendance of at least, twenty pupils. The Ordinance, however, did not prohibit the establishment of ’non assisted’ or ’private’ schools i.e those which did not satisfy the condition set by the Ordinance; a number of the Wesleyan schools were in this class when the Ordinance was first applied. In 1890, Governor Brandford Griffith reported to the Gold Coast Legislative Council that a; Director of Education for the Gold Coast alone had been appointed. In 1902, a new system - ’Payment by results’ (which had been abandoned in England seven years earlier) by which the amount of a school’s grant and in many instances, the teachers’ salaries came to be dependent on inspection conducted by the Inspector of Schools, was introduced. Under this system, a grant of 2s per pupil per year was paid for each pass in Arithmetic, Reading and Writing, and grants varying from 6d to 2s per pupil, based on average attendance, were paid in each of the other subjects based on the results of the Inspector’s examination. The implementation of this directive was stopped in 1909 because of its attendant problems.
Based upon the recommendations of the Education Committee set up in 1908 by Governor Roger ’to consider various matters in connection with education in the Gold Coast’39 attention was given to technical education. The Education Rules (1909) also made some form of ’Industrial or Agricultural Training’ compulsory. The Accra Government Technical School was thus opened in Accra in 1909. It was later moved to Takoradi to become Ghana’s first Secondary Technical School. Again in 1909, the first government teacher training institution - the Accra Training Institute (now Accra Teacher’s Training College) was opened to offer a two-year full time training course. Governor Roger’s reforms also provided for the improvement in the salary structure of teachers. Teachers in ’government employment’ were paid salaries ranging between £36 and £210 per annum, while their counterparts in ’assisted schools’ had a government grant of between £1.105 and £25 per annum to add to the minimum of £20-£30 per annum that the Missions could afford. By 1919, there were 19 government schools, 194 ’assisted’ mission schools, and about 400 ’unassisted schools’, often of low grade. The budget of that year set aside £54,442 for educational purposes. This was the educational situation when Governor Guggisberg took office in 1919.
Soon after his assumption of office, Governor Guggisberg declared that his government regarded education as ’the first and foremost step in the progress of the races of the Gold Coast and therefore as the most important item in its work’. He thus started in earnest, his educational plans for the country by settin up a new committee - The Educationists’ Committee, in March 1920, under the chairmanship of the Director of Education, D.J. Oman. For the first time a Ghanaian Josiah Spio-Garbah, the Headmaster of the Government Boys’ School, Cape Coast, was a member of that committee. The Committee was to review the whole educational structure of the Gold Coast, and to make appropriate recommendations aimed at offering quality education to the people. It was to submit its report in May.
Among the Committee’s 52 recommendations and 53 suggestions were: the adoption of English as a subject of instruction and vernacular as the medium of instruction, the training of professional teachers of the highest standard and the establishment of a government Secondary Boarding School for boys with Achimota as the recommended site. Next to feature in the educational development of Ghana under the Colonial Administration was the work of a Commission financed through the Phelps Stokes Fund. The Commission which toured West Africa in 1920 made recommendations similar to those of Guggisberg. Then in 1921, the Director of Education, D.S. Oman visited some African-American institutions notably, Hampton and Tuskegee and was highly impressed by the success of co-education. The idea of Achimota being a boys’ school was thus modified - i.e. to become co-educational on its establishment. Based upon the suggestions by the Christian Missions with headquarters in England, the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Education was established as a permanent body to advise Government on education. The Advisory Committee produced in 1925 its ’Memoradum of Education in British Tropical Africa’. The memorandum had a lot in common with the suggestion of the Phelps-Stokes Commission and the views of Governor Guggisberg.
Having formed his opinion about education in Ghana with assistance from the various bodies, Guggisberg laid his educational plans before the Legislative Assembly in 1925 in a form that became known as Guggisberg’s ’Sixteen Principles of Education’.4I Consequently, an Education Ordinance was passed in 1925 to give legal backing to these principles. Really, education in Ghana saw phenomenal improvement from this time on. To begin with, he requested for a register of qualified teachers while those who were not qualified were removed from the profession. However, older unqualified teachers of proven competence were made to register. To boost the morale of teachers, salaries of those trained by the Mission were pegged at £100 - £180 42 per annum and those in government schools between £98 - £208. Though the disparities were most painful, it no doubt enhanced efficiency as teachers’ morale, as already stated, was boosted. With the powers granted under the Ordinance, schools which were considered ’inferior’ or sub-standard were closed down. One hundred and fifty of such schools were affected by this exercise.
A new three-year programme was introduced to replace the existing two-year course in the training of teachers. In 1927, this was increased to four. This was aimed at improving the quality of teacher education. The training of female teachers however remained a two-year programme until 1936. By the provision of new structures for the existing training colleges and the opening of two more colleges in 1930, the number of teachers .in training rose to 600. The Teacher’s Journal, which made its maiden appearance in 1928, also proved a valuable source of professional training. With the increasing number of school going children, a new committee -The 1937 - 41 Education Committee, recommended that in addition to the existing four-year programme leading to the award of Certificate A, a two-year course leading to a Teacher’s Certificate B should be introduced to train more teachers for primary school. In addition, a ’post - B’ course of two years (leading to the award of Certificate A) was to be made available to those desirous of improving their standard to qualify for appointment to teach in a middle school, llie 1937 - 41 Committee also called for better co-ordination in education by the setting up of a Central Advisory Committee on Education -CAC, to serve as a permanent body to advise government on educational matters i at die national level. It recommended that this committee should be under the chairmanship of the Director of Education with representation from the Churches, teachers and regional interests. At the district level, District Education Committee under the chairmanship of the District Commissioner was to advise on local needs and plans. The first of the DEC’s was set up at Akyem Abuakwa in 1942. By 1945 there were nine District Education Committees in the11 then Colony.
The system was extended to Asante. To ensure that textbooks specifically prepared tor the country were available, some academics among which were staff of Achimota prepared some textbooks. Here mention could be made of D.T. Adams’ Elementary Geography of the Gold Coast (1931) and W.E.F. Ward’s Short History of the Gold Coast. On secondary education, apart from opening Achimota as a co-educational institution in 1927, the government gave assistance to the existing schools. Ihe first schools to benefit in Asante were, Prempeh College (1948) and Opoku Ware Secondary School (1952). Technical education was also encouraged. Apart from the Takoradi Secondary Technical School which was opened once more in 1947 (it was taken over during World War II for war purposes) other technical schools were opened in 1922 at Mampong, Asunasi and Tamale.
An Engineering School was also opened at Achimota in 1931 with C. S. Deakin as the Head. Fourteen of the school’s students obtained B. Sc. degrees, some in Accra as external candidates, while others completed their courses abroad; of this number, four had by 1957 become heads of government departments - Transport, Housing, Technical Education and the Locomotive Department of the Ghana Railways. Unfortunately, however, the venture came to an end on Mr. Deakin’s retirement in 1948. Mention could be made of schools founded by individuals during the Colonial period. The most successful of these in the provision of secondary education was K.G. Konuah who founded Accra Academy. There was also what was referred to as National Schools. The first one which received government assistance was the Duakwa National School, founded in 1929 by the Chief of’ Agona Duakwa.
The Northern Territories received more attention with the appointment in 1926, of Rev A. H. Candler as head of a new Northern Territories Department of Education responsible to the Governor and not the Director of Education. Candler’s pioneering work led to an increase in the number of children attending school from 318 to 832.45 Earlier in 1912, 1917, 1919 and 1923, the political administration had opened schools at Gambaga, Wa, Lawra and Salaga respectively.
The government also financed the White Fathers’ schools at, Bolgatanga (1927) and Wiagha (1930).46 With grants from the CD & W. Fund, the Tamale Senior School was duplicated and a girls’ senior school built. Both were boarding schools. In 1944, again from the same fund, the first teacher training college in the North was opened at Tamale, drawing its students from the senior school. The first products of the school came out in 1946 and were posted to form the nucleus of the teaching staff of the newly established Local Authority primary schools. The pupils of the primary schools continued to the newly opened middle schools whose increasing output led to the opening of a new training college at Pusiga and extensions made to the Roman Catholic (White Fathers’) college at Navrortgo to absorb those desirous of furthering their education. These processes led to the increase in the number, of children in primary and middle schools in the North from the 1945 figure of 2,218 to 23,340 in 1951.
At the tertiary level, two Committees - the Asquith Commission and Elliot Commission were set up in 1943 to present a report on higher education for study and action. The former’s terms of reference covered the genera I field of university education and the latter, the special problems of West Africa! Though the majority of the members of the Elliot Commission agreed on the establishment of university colleges in Nigeria, the Gold Coast, and certain disciplines in Sierra Leone, the Secretary of State supported the minority view which called for the establishment of a central West African University in Nigeria. However, in the Gold Coast, the nationalists strongly objected to this and called for a separate university in the country. Consequently, following a resolution moved in the Legislative Council by C. W.
Tachie-Menson in July 1946, the Governor, Alan Bums set up a committee (under Kenneth Bradley-the Colonial Secretary) to consider establishing a University College in Ghana. The Committee’s report favoured the idea of a university college in the Gold Coast and therefore, in February 1948, the first Principal, D. M. Balme, arrived in the Gold Coast. The College was formally opened by the Governor on October 11, 1948, with 90 students, as ’an autonomous institution under a Council ... with complete control of the general Policy and property of the college’.
The Colonial Administration sought to introduce scientific methods into health care delivery in the country first, with the British and other foreign nationals’ health needs in mind, but this had the incidental effect of catering for the local people as well. The British saw that there was no good source of potable water and to prevent the incidence of water borne diseases, the government provided good drinking water by constructing wells, bore holes etc. especially m the main towns of Accra, Cape Coast, Kumasi and Sekondi-Takoradi.
Hospitals and clinics were built again mainly in the cities of Accra, Cape Coast, Sekondi-takoradi and Kumsai. By 1939, there were 38 hospitals. The Korle-Bu Hospital built in Accra at the cost of £254,000" by Governor Guggisberg stands out as one of the most important contributions to the health needs of the people of this country. The Colonial government also started the training of health personnel in the country and in Britain. This apart, the government encouraged white doctors to take up appointments in the Gold Coast. This move was very laudable as initially there were no Ghanaian doctors to man the hospitals.
In a move to ensure sanitation through the proper disposal of waste, incinerators were built. Gutters were also constructed to improve drainage to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes in order to reduce the incidence of malaria. Health Inspection Units were also created in towns and villages to ensure environmental cleanliness. In this regard, Health Inspectors were employed and posted to towns and villages. Under the supervision of the Local Councils, these officials were given the right to enter houses, market places etc. to ensure that people observed basic hygienic practices. If they were not satisfied with one’s observance of basic hygiene, summons were issued for culprits to appear before a court which had the right to punish the offenders by imposing fines. Through this, people became cautious about waste disposal.
Health education was vigorously pursued by the government and the Red Cross through the schools and radio. Again, the Colonial government imported drugs to treat diseases. One of such drugs was quinine which was used to cure and prevent malaria. Moreover, periodic inoculation was carried out to check the outbreak of diseases such as yellow fever, small pox etc. A further step taken to ensure the good health of the people was to carry out research into diseases such as malaria, not only to find a cure for it, but how best its transmitting agent - mosquitoes, could be destroyed. And, to let school children know basic rules of health, Hygiene was introduced as a subject of study in the schools.