81 years down the line
PRESEC – Legon is currently 81 years and from Odumase to Legon, still Ghana’s finest secondary school for boys. From a humble enrolment of 16 pioneer-students and 4 tutors in 1938, the current population is 3,870 boys, with 70 classrooms, 178 teachers, 75 non-teaching staff and 20 national service personnel.
The cry of the Presbyterian church of Ghana to establish a secondary school, a cry started by the church’s first Synod Clerk Rev. N. T. Clerk, and joined by others over the years reached a crescendo in 1937. The frantic appeal for help made by the church to the Scottish Mission yielded a dry and disappointed result; “we came to evangelize, not to educate… Education is task of the government”. This negative response stemmed from fear of providing funds for salaries, buildings and equipment, etc. It was during this trying period that Engmann Augustus Wilkens Engmann, 35 years of age offered to do the impossible himself. He offered to work without pay to help realize the dream of a Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School.
He was given an appointment letter signed by the then Synod Clerk, Rev. D. E. Akwa, which stated in part “I am directed by the Synod Committee to inform you that you are appointed the first Principal of the Presbyterian Secondary School which is going to be established at Odumase in February 1938” this was in October 1937.
Engmann was then ill-equipped like the lad David in the Bible. His qualification then was a Teacher’s certificate externally obtained. But he willingly took up the great challenge and with characteristic energy immediately moved from Akropong to Odumase and immersed himself completely in the initial work.
Lowly dwellings, humble beginning.
A. W. Engmann obtained the premises of the Old Basel Mission residence at Odumase which became the birthplace of PRESEC. There were no facilities for teaching, no typewriter for the office work, no conveniences for the students, only the rooms of the German missionaries which was the source of water supply. Engmann had to build everything from scratch, turning bedrooms into classrooms etc. But for E. A. W. Engmann PRESEC would not have been in existence today.
Ten Students and 3 teachers
On the basis of special entrance examination, Engmann selected his first crop of students. The school was formally opened on 1st February 1938 with 10 students and 3 teachers in the presence of Moderator Rev. C. E. Martinson, with Rev. D. E. Akwa the Synod Clerk officiating. Later 6 more students and a teacher joined them.
RECRUITMENT OF STUDENTS
The early days of PRESEC saw E. A. W. Engmann going round local churches, campaigning for students. He went as far as Kumasi, addressing congregations and persuading them to send their children and wards to the newly opened Presbyterian Secondary School at Odumase. The response was not encouraging but Engmann was undaunted and followed up with further recruitment tors periodically to search for students.
A GEM OF A HEADMASTER
Versatile and Resourseful
Due to lack of funds to pay extra staff in the initial stages, Engmann worked tirelessly day and night and managed the entire school, doing the work of all the office workers and educational institution needed. As a headmaster he rallied round himself some of the best teachers in the country and where he did not have a teacher taught the subject himself. He was one man who could teach every subject on the Time Table from Algebra to Zoology. He got hold of essential books and educated himself educated himself in order to educate others. Sometimes using the entrails and parts of freshly slaughtered sheep which were intended for school meals he conducted on the spot practical animal anatomy lessons for his students. When the school began to expand and needed more structures he acted as foreman and supervisor for the construction of the technicalities of their own trade.
With minimum equipment, staff and poor infrastructure etc, students and teachers worked very hard to produce excellent results in academic work as well as in sports. When the first set of Education Officers inspected the school after its first few years of existence they were so impressed by the high standards they saw in all field of school life under difficult conditions that they immediately recommended it for Government assistance.
By dint of hard work E. A. W. Engmann was able to build a firm and solid foundation for PRESEC. Soon the reputation of the school began to spread and its student population grew. By his achievements Engmann proved that he was one of the greatest Educationists of his time, achieving the best where many would have given up in despair, inspiring his students with confidence, hardworking spirit and impeccable manners, and effective teaching techniques.
The School finally gets to the capital city, Accra – Ghana.
PRESEC was located in Odumase – Krobo till 1st of September, 1968 when it was rehoused at its new permanent location at Legon – Mile 9, north-east of the University of Ghana.
At the new campus it continued as a boys’ boarding secondary school until the mid 1970s when the sixth form was upgraded to the National Science College. Female students were admitted into the sixth form in small numbers from September 1975. They continued to be part of the student body until June 1996 when the last batch left.
The school exists for the equipping of students for a fuller life to which Christian education based on the Presbyterian tradition opens the door. Hence it stands for excellence in academic, moral and skill development.
Its purpose is to discipline not only the mind and the body but also the spirit. However, it is only with the co-operation of parents that this can be achieved, and parents who decide to send their children to the school are asked to make sure that this co-operation is forthcoming.
We believe that
- Every student has unique abilities and talents that must be fostered and supported through our educational programme.
- Students learn best when they are actively involved in the learning process. Students learn best when they are held to high and challenging expectation.
- Students learn best when they have opportunities to learn independently and assume individual responsibility.
- Students, educators, parents, and the school community have a shared responsibility for every student’s education.
21sT Century Skills
- Skill 1 Use technological research tools to access and evaluate information ethically
- Skill 2 Works collaboratively to accomplish group goals. .
- Skill 3 Effectively communicate information for a variety of purposes
- Skill 4 Critical Thinking/Analysis
- Skill 5 Problem-Solving
- Skill 6 Demonstrating personal responsibility, character, cultural understanding, and ethical behavior.
The school’s crest has a shield with the Presbyterian symbol (the St Andrew Cross-Scottish flag with the Swiss Flag embedded and a burning torch in the middle) with the motto of the school, “In Lumine Tuo Videbimus Lumen”, meaning “In Thy Light We Shall See Light”,(Psaim 36:9) scrolled beneath the shield.
One of the traditions of the school is the ɔdadeɛ (baobab tree) located on the Krobo-Odumase campus. An alumnus of the school is referred to as Ɔdadeɛ. The baobab tree is a Ghanaian symbol of knowledge, resourcefulness and strength, which every student leaving Presec do possess. New students were traditionally initiated at the feet of this tree clad in bedsheets and powdered faces.
Once initiated, a student gets the title of “PRESECAN” or “Oaklander”, the official mascot of the school and nick-named “Blue Magician”, his remaining days on campus. He however would be officially intiated into the Old Boys’ Fraternity, 10 years after completing school.
Happy are we! Studious are we!
Students of Presbyterian Secondary School
Onward we march, we trudge along
To happy victory, to victory, to victory
Our motto is a solid bulwark propping us along
IN LUMINE TUO LUMINE
TOU VIDEBIMUS LUMEN
In Thy light, Thy light, We shall see light
In Lumine Tuo Videbimus Lumen
For Christian training we get
A sure solid foundation to take our places
In the future of our country and church
O come along and join us
O come along and join us
Happy! Studious! Are we!
“In Lumine Tuo Videbimus Lumen”