The principal idea behind the establishment of the Agogo Presbyterian Women’s College of Education by the Basel Missionaries in 1928, apart from providing quality education, was to cultivate ‘enlightened women’ who would eventually become wives to the Akyrakyefo.
One of the primary concerns of the missionaries was the potential outcome if educated men chose to marry ‘heathen’ (used in context) women. They feared that these women and their children might revert to ‘heathen worship’. Consequently, women’s education was restricted compared to that of men.
Regarding behavioral formation, the girls were instructed on proper behavior, attire, and the maintenance of general etiquette. Christian values emphasized included efficient household management, encompassing tasks like laundry, ironing, scrubbing, dusting, polishing, child care, and providing first aid for domestic injuries.
They were taught the use of brooms and brushes for maintaining room and outhouse sanitation, caring for bed linens, mattresses, and pillowcases, as well as addressing lost or loose dress buttons, cleaning glasses and cutlery, arranging table napkins, chair backs, and different plates for various meal courses.
Reverend Grace Sintim Adasi (PhD), the Principal of the College, revealed these details during her seminar presentation titled “Interrogating the Nature of Missionary Education for Girls in Ghana: The Case of Agogo Presbyterian Women’s College of Education” at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana in Accra.
The Principal of the College further explains that the missionary teachers who taught these girls were mostly unmarried. Yet, they were to prepare them for marriage.
This indicates that the education was not solely focused on the ‘how of marriage,’ but rather on domestic arrangements and home management. They were taught skills such as childcare and home management, including courses such as Preparation for Marriage and Motherhood.
The young girls were trained to develop skills they could use to earn a living. These skills included making foreign savories such as cakes, doughnuts, bread, etc., as well as sewing.
While the initial focus of the education was to provide Home Training and Management, aimed at preparing ‘polished women’ for marriage, it had consequential impacts on the women.
However, it is conceded that while the education aimed to prepare them as wives and good mothers, it also served as a means of inculcating significant lessons, such as ideas of self-reliance and financial sufficiency.
The College was upgraded to a degree-awarding institution as a College of Education in 2007-08, and was upgraded from training college status of Teacher’s Certificate “A/B” to a Diploma awarding institution, in 2018, the College was upgraded from a Diploma awarding tertiary institution to becoming a Degree awarding institution affiliated to University of Education Winneba (UEW), mentoring to the Agogo Presbyterian Women College of Education (APWCE).
It offers four-year courses on bachelor of education programs in Early Grade, Primary, and Junior High specialties.
The focus is to train high-class teachers to serve the foundational levels of Ghanaian education.
Though their education was comparatively limited compared to their male counterparts, it provided a form of social mobility for women, granting access to high society, which other categories of women did not have.
The astute scholar further stated that their homes became models and epicenters for the training and transmitting knowledge to young girls who couldn’t attend school.
Throughout history, schools have provided various forms of education for women through different means, serving as one of the entry points for women’s access to education.
Over time, its focus has progressively changed in the type and kind of education it provides for women.
The Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG) was established in 1828 by the Basel Mission Society (BSM) in response to a request from the then-Danish Governor at Christiansburg Castle (Osu).
The church welcomed Black West Indian Missionaries, Moravian Missionaries, African Mission Workers, and Church Members. Initially, the PCG Girls’ Boarding Schools were established to educate women primarily in Domestic Science—home maintenance skills such as cooking and cleaning.
Reverend Grace Sintim Adasi (PhD) recounts that throughout its history, the school has provided diverse forms of education for women through various means.
It has served as a significant gateway for women’s access to education since its inception. Over time, the school’s focus has evolved, altering the type and nature of education it offers to women.