KEYNOTE SPEECH AT 2013 AGM

We invited our long-standing supporter, Professor Lalage Bown to give the keynote speech after lunch.  Lalage was an Extra-Mural Tutor (attached to the University College in Ghana)  with responsibilty for Trans-Volta Togoland, from 1949 to 1955. She gave her speech with great gusto, complete with handout and some good jokes, to the delight and fascination of the diners.  Here is a summary of what she said.

Introduction               The reasons for telling this story were (a) that it was almost unknown, (b) it was in itself a good story, and (c) it contained messages for the present.  A striking characteristic of most of the University College staff was how young they were (I was 22 when I went off into Trans-Volta Togoland);  perhaps this was just as well for extra-mural tutors, since the work entailed rough living, very long car journeys, often camping overnight and make-shift housing.  A second important point was the early involvement of Gold Coasters as part-time tutors and senior department members.

The Point of Extra-Mural Studies                  When so few people had the chance of entering the College and when there were many able people in the country, the work was a  a fair use of some higher education resources.  Secondly, attendance at classes had a positive effect on people in outlying areas, since it gave them “ideas and encouragement”.  And thirdly, it met social needs by preparing people for social, political and economic change.  Though some Government officers understood and welcomed this, there were suspicions and I was, on one occasion, pursued by Special Branch.  On the other hand, when the UN Togo Mission came to report on British Trusteeship, the Government was pleased to show off the classes as preparing for independence!  (It was, however, a bit worrying that the Mexican member asked if I was “for rent”!)

How it Worked               A broad programme of weekly classes, weekend courses and public lectures and residential courses attracted all kinds of people with some formal education, among them, inevitably, many teachers.  Numbers grew rapidly, so that by 1955 there were more than 3500 class participants.

Outcomes                  Extra-Mural classes generated a wide spread of social projects, partly through links with the Community Development Department and partly through the extra-mural students’ own organisation, the People’s Educational Association, or PEA.  This democratic approach helped in bringing conflicting groups together, while leadership at all levels was fostered, since many educated chiefs participated, many trade union officials and elected representatives, e.g. almost all the Trans-Volta Togo regional council and 80 out of the 104 Legislative Assembly members.

Projects                        Major projects emerged and great efforts were made to involve more women;  one who had been sent to jail for demonstrating, placed such value on her class that she sent her warder to attend in her place!

Conclusion                    This was only a small part of a much longer story, since the University of Ghana still has a flourishing Institute of Adult Education.  I have many happy memories of those early days, not only of the rewarding nature of the work itself, but also of the extraordinary welcome and kindnesses I received from Ghanaians – such as the village woman who gave me the sole coin she had, a 3d piece, to buy eggs for my lunch.