The Old Achimotan Association (OAA) committed itself in 2016 to constructing a new ultra-modern science facility for Achimota School to mark the school’s 90th anniversary in 2017.
The leadership learned of an initiative by Tullow Oil Ghana Limited to support second-cycle institutions with STEM infrastructure. The OAA wrote to Tullow Oil to express interest in the support and the application was accepted.
After months of discussions, the OAA signed a grant agreement with Tullow Oil in October 2016.
The plan was to start the construction before the end of 2016 and finish it for handover to the school before Christmas 2017.
Tullow Oil supported the project with a total disbursement of $310,000. It is important to mention that the former Chief Executive of Tullow, Mr Charles Darku, played a pivotal role in getting this project going.
The executive committee put in place a Project Management Team (PMT) made up of Akoras Osei Kwame Agyeman, 1975, as the Chairman; Ian Kpakpa Quartey, 1975, as the Project Consultant, Philip Bennett Aboagye, 1971, as the Quantity Surveyor; Leslie Awere-Kyere, 1977, as the Structural Engineer, and Eunice Quarcoopome, 1975 as the Administrator.
The brief from the OAA Executive Committee to the PMT was to “develop the most modern science facility available to any senior high school in Ghana”. They were to plan for four laboratories that could each accommodate 50 students comfortably at a time.
Each laboratory would be equipped with a SmartBoard to facilitate modern teaching and learning.
Happily, the design for the proposed building blended with other buildings in the institution, a combination of tradition and modernity, a major appeal of the structure.
The contractor was Messrs David Walter, a company run by another Akora, David Amankwah (1977). This group of professionals worked pro bono for the realisation of the project. They showed commitment throughout development and construction, deserving the commendation of all Akoras.
The sod-cutting event on January 28, 2017 coincided with the beginning of activities marking the 90th anniversary celebration. Construction finally began in June 2017 and continued for the rest of the year with the main structure in place by the beginning of 2018.
The second phase of work began in July 2019. The instruction from OAA was that the building must be ready for use by the end of 2019. The project now required an additional investment of more than $350,000 to achieve that.
When it became obvious that OAA needed to embark on serious fund-raising, Akora Merene Benyah (Botsio), 1973, led the charge by approaching several friends and relatives and brought in the first personal contribution. The 1973 Year Group also decided “not to disgrace the OAA president” and several individuals contributed significant amounts to support the project.
One of the fund-raising strategies employed by OAA was to name a laboratory after any group, company or person that would contribute $50,000.
The most significant breakthrough came when the 1978 Year Group committed to that and contributed $60,000. The 1970 Year Group also committed to supporting one laboratory for $50,000. They were going to celebrate 50 years of leaving school in 2020 and wanted to have a legacy project for the purpose.
The Orraca-Tetteh family offered $50,000 in honour of their late mother. The OAA had not reckoned with families wanting to be sponsors. This offer was accepted as it introduced another way in which the OAA could mobilise resources in future.
The 1973 Year Group hosted a dinner-dance in North Carolina to raise funds for the project in August 2019. The Group contributed $62,000 and remains the group with the largest number of individual $1,000 contributors.
The 1989 Year Group celebrated 30 years of leaving school in 2019 and decided to devote proceeds from the Annual OAA President’s Ball to this project. They donated $70,000 to the project, the largest.
Several year groups also made the $5,000 contribution decided on by the year group presidents’ meeting in January 2019. Significant support was also received from Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited and the Mohinani Group, and the OAA remains grateful for these donations.
The OAA sought to deliver to Achimota School the most modern science facility for a senior high school in Ghana. The project cost more than $700,000 and the process for developing it has been transparent and participatory.
Even though significant funding came from Tullow Oil, for which we are thankful, individual Akoras have played very significant roles to make this project possible.
The lesson from this is that there are many well-meaning and committed Akoras who will do anything for their alma mater.
As the OAA hands over the facility to the school and after having trained more than 60 teachers in the use of the SmartBoards, we would like to reiterate a concern that many contributors expressed. They were worried about whether the school could maintain the facility.
We strongly encourage the management of the school to do all in its power to put the facility to good use and maintain it as appropriate.