Prempeh College as an educational institution is a product of a fruitful collaboration between the Kumasi Traditional Council, the Presbyterian and Methodist churches in the then Gold Coast and the Colonial Central Government.
It is interesting to note that not many people today may know that until 1949 when Prempeh College was founded, there was not a single government-assisted or recognized secondary school in Ashanti and Northern Regions of the country. Students from these areas who were desirous of pursuing secondary education had to travel to the south to attend schools like Achimota, Accra Academy, Mfantsipim School, Adisadel College, St Augustine’s College and PRESEC at Krobo Odumasi.
The colonial government sought to correct this imbalance in the early 1940’s by inviting the Presbyterian and Methodist churches, which had proven experience in running institutions of learning to start a secondary school for boys.
After some delays caused by the Second World War, the final decision to open a school for boys in Kumasi was taken in 1948. Prempeh College, therefore, was founded to fill a void that had existed in secondary education for residents of Ashanti and the Northern regions of the country.
Temporary accommodation was found for the students in the premises of the 52ndMilitary Hospital. The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei-Agyeman Prempeh II, who had taken personal interest in the formation of the school, donated the land for the current site of the school.
The Birth of a School
The name Prempeh College was suggested by Major C.O. Butler, the then Chief Commissioner for the Ashanti region. The colours of green and gold, which are part of the Ashanti traditional colours, were adopted by the school. The first Headmaster, Rev. Sidney N. Pearson, unveiled a school crest design with the chosen colours, a stool representing the Ashanti region, and a cross honoring the role of the churches. The original motto:
“Oman pa fa pem ne suban pa” was changed to “suban ne nimdeɛ” in 1964.
The school was established in February 1949 by the then Gold Coast government in collaboration with the Methodist and Presbyterian missionaries and the Ashanti Royal Kingdom. In 1949, 50 boys from Mfantsipim School and their headmaster, Rev. Sidney N. Pearson founded the school. The opening ceremony was attended by many dignitaries, including Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei-Agyemang Prempeh II, Major C. O. Butler, church leaders, chiefs and members of the Kumasi Traditional Council.
The Asantehene maintained a keen interest in the school and was a frequent attendant at the school’s speech and prize-giving Days.
The school has had 10 headmasters since it was founded. The first headmaster, Rev. Sidney N. Pearson in his four-year term set the foundation for the school by making discipline and academic excellence his principal focus. His successors continued to build on the solid foundation.
Dr. T. A. Osae, the 5th headmaster of the school who succeeded Mr Arthur Clarke, became the first Ghanaian to lead the institution. Under T.A. Osae, the school continued its academic excellence, maintaining top honours for ten consecutive years, and producing more students for medical schools than any other Ghanaian school. Prempeh alumni have instituted an annual Pearson–Osae Memorial Lectures in honour of these main pivots of Prempeh College’s success story. The invaluable contributions of all headmasters have kept Prempeh College in the limelight as one of the top second cycle institutions in the country.
Working for Society and Country
Today the success story of Prempeh College has made it a school of choice for boys across the country. The vision and dreams of “educating citizens who work for country, instead of the country for them” has become a reality and today alumni of the school are serving in many positions of responsibility in and outside the country. They have distinguished themselves as academics, doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, architects, traditional rulers and as professionals in other sectors of the economy.
“Only the best is good enough for Prempeh College” ~ T.A. Osae