GSTS honours students; celebrates 109th anniversary with spectacular parade

The Ghana Secondary Technical School (GSTS), Takoradi marked its 109th Anniversary/Speech and Prize Giving Day on 24th November 2018 with a spectacular cadet parade reviewed by the Chief of Defense Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces, Lt. Gen. Obed Akwa.

The Speech Day, which had the theme “Holistic education: the role of stakeholders”, was part of a weekend of activities that saw several Giants (alumni) of GSTS descend upon its beautiful hilltop premises overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The Chairman of the Speech and Prize-Giving day Giant Professor Samuel K. Asiedu-Addo Ph.D. ’81 ‘83, Dean of School of Science Education and Director of the Office of Institutional Advancement at the University of Education, Winneba delivered the keynote address on behalf of Guest Speaker Giant Professor John Eminah ‘70 ‘72, Head of the Chemistry Department at the University of Education, Winneba.

Giant Prof. Samuel K. Asiedu-Addo Ph.D. delivering the keynote address.

In the speech, he touched on the role of stakeholders in developing not only the moral and intellectual capacities of students but also the physical abilities of students. According to him, “it is obvious that the inclusion of Mente et Manu in the emblem of G.S.T.S. was not an afterthought.”

He defined holistic education as “the extraction of valuable lessons from the past to address or obtain insights into current and ongoing issues to be better prepared to face the future.”

Giant Prof. Eminah added that holistic education could be achieved by several factors coming together and each playing its intended role.

He identified these factors as personal (student), parental, instructional (teachers), institutional (staff, administration, and alumni) and governmental. His speech went into the details of how each of these factors contributes to the delivery of holistic education which he argued is what Ghana needs at this moment in time. 

As expected, academic success and achievement were the focus of the 109th Anniversary/Speech and Prize-Giving Day. Master Daniel Kwame Walker, Master Moses Sekyi Donkor, and Master Andy Andoh-Mensah won the Scholars of the Year Award.

In all, about 75 students won prizes for academic excellence, participation in sports and extracurricular activities and conduct. Also, about 20 teaching and non-teaching staff were given various awards with the Best Housemaster Award going to Mr. Simon Cudjoe.

Aside from the celebration of student achievement, anyone entering the GSTS campus on the Speech Day would have sensed that the famed GSTS cadet corps was up to something big, or some top military or government official was present at the school. Stationed at the school gates were armed soldiers with a few more posted inside the campus. The usually clean campus was cleaner and abuzz with excitement.

Mr. Samuel K. Essel, Headmaster of GSTS addressing guests at the 2018 Speech

Talk among students hinted that the Chief of Defense Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces (CDS) was going to be the reviewing officer for the Speech Day parade. Interestingly, some students were skeptical that the CDS would be attending himself with some suggesting that he would send a representative. With military precision and timing, the CDS arrived right on time, and the waiting GSTS regimental band struck its first tune to begin the Guard of Honor parade.

With many of its alumni being current and former members of the armed services or cadet corps; including the recently retired Chief of Naval Staff Rear Admiral Peter Kofi Faidoo (Rtd), Giants present beamed with pride and were extremely honored to have the CDS come to their school. More importantly, the GSTS cadets under Commanding Officer Cadet Major Gerald Afrifah Dabankah did not disappoint the assembled guests.

They put on a spectacular parade for their honored guest, Lt. Gen. Obed Akwa. Sharply dressed in new uniforms sponsored by the Class of 1984 and other Giants; the turnout of the two contingents plus a regimental band, the drills and the music played were right on point. In his remarks, Lt. General Obed Akwa (CDS) spoke about the history and substantial contributions of GSTS to the Ghana Armed Forces.

The Regimental Band of the School Cadet Corps.

He also talked about his association with the school being a parent of a Giant. He urged cadets and students to work hard and to be very disciplined so that, they too, can be as successful as the Giants that have gone before them.

Ghana Secondary Technical School’s (GSTS) which turns 110 years this year is known for its science and engineering prowess. Many people not associated with the school, however, do not know about its equally rich military history. This history goes back to the school’s early years when it was closed in 1914, upon the outbreak of World War I, and only five years after its founding.

The buildings for the then Accra Technical School which later became the Government Technical School were needed for military purposes, and some of its staff had to join the Colonial Forces. After the war, the school struggled to get its enrollment up; however, by the 1930s, the student population had increased to the point that it was decided to move it to the current location in Takoradi.

Between June and August 1939, equipment was transported by land from Accra to the newly built campus in Takoradi. Formal classes resumed at the current site on 21st September 1939 under the leadership of Lt. Col. T.T. Gilbert as Acting Principal.

As the school’s fate with the military would have it, just six months after moving to Takoradi; in August 1940, the school had to be closed down again and relocated at Elmina Castle, to make way for the Royal Air Force (RAF) at the outbreak of World War II. (A miniature propeller of an airplane still hangs at the entrance of the old Administration Block, to memorialize the school’s occupation by the Royal Air Force).

In January 1941, fifty (50) students resumed classes at the Elmina Castle which had been modified to accommodate equipment and classrooms. This arrangement did not last long. In May of 1943, the School was closed altogether so the technical branches of the military could use the Castle and the School’s equipment. Most teaching staff and students were recruited into the colonial forces until the end of the hostilities.

In October 1945, the Royal Air Force finally moved out of the School’s buildings in Takoradi, paving the way for the return of the students under the new headship of Major T.C. Watkins as Acting Principal.

The war years, the military service of staff and students that served in WWII, the leadership of Lt. Col. Gilbert and Major Watkins, helped to consolidate a culture of military discipline at the school that would endure for decades.

Not surprisingly, GSTS formed an Army Cadet Corps in January 1954 under the Ministry of Education, the first of its kind in the Gold Coast. Although the Cadet Corps is modeled after the military, it is considered a civil and student organization designed to instill discipline and leadership qualities in boys and girls.

The cadet corps at GSTS, however, has its roots in the staff and students who came back after World War II. Records show that the first group of school cadets was about twenty (20) in number.

As the cadet corps grew in strength and popularity, several of its members joined the military and also other civil institutions.

Ghana’s independence in 1957, meant the country had to take charge of its national defense. Since the Airforce and Navy are highly technical branches of the Armed Forces, GSTS would become a fertile recruiting ground for new officers.

On 3rd November 1965, the late President of the Republic of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, announced that the Government Secondary Technical School (GSTS) would be adopted and turned into an Air Force Training College. According to this policy, “GSTS students were to be given the opportunity as are appropriate and suitable, to prepare them for careers in the Ghana Air Force and Civil Aviation Authority.”

GSTS cadet corps on parade – Saturday, 24th November 2018.

Unfortunately, not much happened after the announcement due to the political instability at the time.

On 23 April 1971, Air Marshall M. A. Otu and Senior Officers of the Military Division of the Ministry of Defense visited the school to clarify the intentions of the military’s involvement with the school.

The military brass decided that the Sixth Form at GSTS would be used to educate potential officer cadets with the aim of enlisting them after their A Levels to the Ghana Military Academy and Training School, Teshie.

As a result of this visit, the Ghana Armed Forces sponsored the first batch of 40 students from GSTS and other schools around the country to undertake a two-year military cum sixth-form course at GSTS.

Unfortunately, the program stopped after the very first batch. Many of the graduates from this 1972 class including former Chief of Defense Staff, Vice Admiral Mathew Quarshie (Rtd), former Chief of Army Staff Major General J.N. Adinkrah (Rtd), and National Security Advisor Brigadier General Emmanuel Okyere (Rtd), as well as, several notable military officers went on to highly successful and distinguished careers in the Ghana Armed Forces.

It would be an understatement to say that, the cadet corps at GSTS is revered by current students and Giants alike. Despite the immaculate turnout, Giants interviewed after the 109thAnniversary parade felt that there was more room for improvement. Members of the Class of 1984, have initiated the “Adopt-a-Cadet” fundraiser with the blessing of the GSTS Alumni Association (GAA) to reequip the cadet corps so that they can reestablish themselves as the best in the country. The plan calls for the reintroduction of activities that have faded out due to lack of funding and proper supervision. The GAA, therefore, urges all Giants to support the “Adopt-a-Cadet” Fundraiser to make it a reality.

24th November 2018, was one of many remarkable days in the annals of the GSTS. As one of the best schools in Ghana, GSTS celebrated scholarship, achievement, and tradition.

Several Giants and dignitaries attended this very successful 109th Speech Day. Some of the dignitaries included Member of the Council of State Hon.

Mrs. Alberta Cudjoe, whose husband was once the Headmaster of GSTS, the Deputy Western Regional Minister Hon.

Mrs. Eugenia Gifty Kusi, the President of the GSTS Alumni Association Giant Wing Commander William Kekrebesi (Rtd), the 1st Vice President of the GAA Giant Mr. Samuel Akuamaoh-Boateng and the Hon. Giant Richard Quarshigah Member of Parliament, a member of the Class of 1988.

This year, GSTS which also happens to the third oldest secondary school in Ghana will be celebrating its 110th Anniversary under the theme “110 Years of creativity in secondary and technical education: prospects and challenges in nation building”.

We invite all Giants and Ghanaians to join us in this grand celebration of our achievements over these 110 years.

By: Tetteh Abbeyquaye Ph.D.
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