OLA College of Education marks centenary in glitz and pride

In dazzling glitz, pride, and bliss, the Our Lady of Apostles (OLA) College of Education in Cape Coast held a grand durbar to celebrate its historic 100th year milestone in the training of excellent women educators in Ghana. The centennial celebration, interspersed with breath-taking musical and cultural performances, was also made special by the presence of countless renowned academics, political figures, the clergy, and traditional leaders. It was held on the theme: 'Hundred years of holistic teacher education: Retrospection and prospects.' The OLA College of Education, the first women's teachers' college in Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa, was established in 1924 by catholic nuns at the Saint Mary's Covent School in Cape Coast. The college commenced with only six students and has since established itself as a prestigious training institution, feeding the country's education system with thousands of female teachers over the decades. In a noble move, the college marked its centenary with the launch of a jo urnal to support an endowment fund offering scholarships for science and maths education students. The anniversary also saw the college honour its past principals as well as teaching and non-teaching staff some of whom were honoured posthumously. Mrs Samira Bawumia, the Second Lady, who graced the occasion, gorgeously donning the centenary cloth, observed that OLA had over the years been a beacon of hope for countless individuals, providing quality teacher training programmes that had produced exceptional educators. 'It's our hope that OLA continues to play practical role in the development of our dear nation to continue to produce hardworking and industrious women who will go on to contribute diligently to the development of this country just as they have been doing of the past years,' she said. Mrs Bawumia indicated that teacher education was the corner stone of any educational system because teachers shaped the future of society by nurturing the minds of future leaders and innovators. She acknowledged and endorsed the need for a holistic approach to teacher education, stressing that holistic education went beyond imparting knowledge to fostering critical thinking, empathy, creativity, and resilience in students. The Second Lady maintained that it was crucial to invest in the education and the skills development of the youth, arguing that education was the quickest way for Ghana to develop. 'That is why our government remains focused on its vision of ensuring that quality education becomes accessible to all children irrespective of their social and financial circumstances. Mrs Bawumia extolled OLA College for its contributions to Ghana's education and urged it to continue that path. 'Women empowerment is possible with an educated girl. Therefore, let us continue to promote learning by motivating our students to learn and by developing knowledge, attitudes, and skills,' she added. Dr Regina Okyere-Dankwa, Principal, OLA College of Education, said the college remained steadfast in its commitment to foste ring intellect, character, integrity and compassion in its products. She noted that they had evolved with the changing times and reforms to ensure students received the finest holistic education characterised by compassion wisdom and service to humanity. Dr Okyere-Dankwa indicated that it had always been her vision to elevate college to the pinnacle of educational excellence since assuming the role as the principal in 2021. 'This vision, rooted in the principles of holistic education which aligns perfectly with our overarching goal of creating a unique centre of excellence for training teachers who are professionally driven and also imbued with a deep sense of inspiration and value orientation,' she added. She said the college was working to become a fully-fledged university and appealed to the Minister of Education to consider their request to transition into a university college for a start. Dr Mrs Okyere-Dankwa also expressed the college's dedication to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and appealed to government and all stakeholders to help them create a supportive ecosystem with the relevant infrastructure and resources. The principal further appealed to government to provide the college with buses and minivans for both students and faculty to facilitate their Supported Teaching in Schools (STS) experiences and supervision to fully realise the potential of the initiative. The STS is a practical concept where students are given the opportunity to observe and engage in classroom instructions under the mentorship of experienced educators. In addition, Dr Mrs Okyere-Dankwa expressed disquiet over the sorry state of the college's internal roads and pleaded with government to construct and resurface the roads with asphalt and transform the campus into a safer and more conducive environment for learning. She lamented that they were burdened with water crisis, infrastructural deficit and hefty electricity bills which threatened their capacity to maintain uninterrupted power su pply. She called all to all stakeholders including NGOs and philanthropical organisations to help the school invest in solar energy, infrastructure, and borehole construction. Dr Okyere-Dankwa thanked all stakeholders for their respective roles in the advancement of the school on every front. Prof. Dora Francisca Edu-Buandoh, a former pro-vice chancellor of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) expressed the need to invest in the continuous professional development of teachers. She said teachers needed to be abreast with current research in teacher education curricula, new methodologies, and new teaching philosophies. 'It is only when the teachers develop themselves to meet 21st Century education needs that they can impart same to the young women here,' she added. Source: Ghana News Agency