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Regional News of Friday, 8 May 2015

Source: Owura Kwaku Adutwum Asante

Prempeh College Assembly Hall Renovated

Prempeh College 89/91 Year Group Remodels the Osae Assembly Hall using a highly creative strategy

Prempeh College old boys call themselves Amanfoo and are trained to strongly believe in Prempeh College’s core principles of dress codes, good social ethics, leadership and flat out sense of excellence across the board. Their Alumni network cuts across all social spectrum including but not limited to leadership in politics, chieftaincy, business, academics, and other specialty industries. They are presently scattered all over the world with strong presence in the UK, USA and of course in Ghana.

A subset of this Alumni Network is the 89/91 year group, a very UNIQUE group of alumni comprising of about 182+ men who were admitted into Prempeh College some 30 years ago, and graduated form five in 1989. I will explain why I think this group is UNIQUE and needs to be watched vigilantly. There is high hopes and we should expect great deliverables to humanity and Africa as a whole, from this group.

Built around 1949, Prempeh College, the all boys Presbyterian/Methodist missionary secondary school, has seen good and successful times in sports and academics. However, infrastructure at the school has suffered neglect over the past 66 years. It is fair to say the school is currently overpopulated and needs proper infrastructural management and expansion to accommodate the growth in student population.

One of such iconic Prempeh College buildings in the school that saw abuse and neglect, is the one that stands elegantly at the main fore court of the campus and served as the most important unique structure at Prempeh College for many years called the Osae Assembly Hall (named after the first black headmaster of the school). For many years this building was the focal point for almost all major school gatherings, such as occasional dances, daily singing and worships etc. Osae Assembly Hall is an edifice to behold. It stands about 35 feet tall with stained glass, architectural moldings facade, high ceilings, 2 inches thick red wood parquet floors, and big wooden built-in stage with a basement and a gallery.

Due to the poor state that this important building was in, the 1989/91 group decided to take on the challenge to renovate the Assembly Hall to serve as an example of alumi projects that can help restore Prempeh College. The 89/91 year group is not the first and will not be the last graduating class to return to there secondary school to give back after 25 years of graduation. As stated earlier, the UNIQUENESS of this group lies in the approach the group took in indentifying and tackling the project from inception to completion. The renovation project team did not hire any professionals such as an architect, quantity surveyor, or contractors, but they executed solely on reliance on volunteerism and determination. They relied heavily on their own experiences, expertize and seasoned professionals amongst themselves.

The group gave a nod to commencing the project without setting up any formal traditional project schedule; no written project evaluation, no monitoring process, no resources or funds. Not even once did any specially planned public fund raising event take place at any point in time during the project. They even demolished the priceless but run down antique parquet floors and salvaged what they could without knowing the exact actual figures of how much it will cost to put the parquet floors back in place. Some will deem this as poor planning but all they had was trust in one another and the hope that funds will definitely come in from fellow classmates. They dwelled on the notion of a seamlessly woven common bond and trust among the group. This common character, enthusiasm and determination they refer to it as "the spirit within" hence their UNIQUENESS.

They accepted all donations in cash and kind and collectively embraced all who wanted to be part of this project with open hands. The total cash raised from primarily within the group, in order to get the renovation works done came with a price tag of GHC 150,000. The individual members of the group donated cash ranging from GHC 200 to GHC 13,000 with an average donation per head of GHC 1,875. Most individuals gave very generously according to their financial ability and in multiple rounds of donations. This type of donation and commitment does not happen too often outside church or charitable foundations, but it happened over and over again during the cause of this project.

As much as they could, the leadership of the project answered all questions asked by group members and was transparent as possible. This is not to say there were no flaws or challenges but as issues cropped up, they were addressed appropriately, one at a time. While the main goal was to complete the remodeling successfully, the welfare of each and every member was promptly taken care of in solidarity of all group members. This is a custom that has come to stay with the group. There were lots of positive reinforcement and many self initiated fund raising techniques invented by this group members leaving us with new vocabularies such as “Pay –O-Pay”, Donkomize, White Gallon and many other fun lingo. Exploiting individual relationships and group dynamics within go group was key to our success in fund raising.

In short, the 1989/91 year group defied all odds and broke all concepts of basic project management 101. They relied solely on what they called “the spirit within” instilled by Mr. R.T. Sackey (may his soul rest in peace) former headmaster of the school. Whereas this strategy worked for this group in this UNIQUE instance, it may not be applicable to any other year group. The project was completed on March 8th 2015 over a period of about 6 months and handed over to Prempeh College Authorities on May 5th 2015. The occasion was subsequently marked with several dinner dance celebrations in Kumasi that same weekend held by the 89/91 year group members.

The 1989/91 year group vows to take on other pressing issues facing the school at the moment in the near future. They also encourage other schools in Ghana to emulate their great example of taking bold risks to solve existing problems across the country. They believe this can only be achieved through self reliance strategies using prudence and a little dosage of “the spirit within”.

To the 1989/91 Year Group I say Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary after graduating Prempeh College and Thank You for Remodeling the Osae Assemble Hall. Long live Prempeh College. Long Live Ghana.

Written By
Owura Kwaku Adutwum Asante - May 2015