Opoku Ware School, often referred to as OWASS, is a all-boys high school in Santasi, a suburb of Kumasi, which is the capital of the Ashanti region of Ghana. It was established in 1952,
as one of the five Catholic schools in Ghana that year. The school was named after Asante King Opoku Ware I. It is located in Santasi, along the Kumasi-Obuasi road. The patron saint of the school is Saint Thomas Aquinas. The motto of the school is “Deus Lux Scientiae”, meaning “God is the Light of Knowledge”.
The school is governed by a board, who appoints a headmaster. It has 10 houses, each headed by a housemaster, selected from the senior members of the teaching staff. Every year an overwhelming number of the school’s students qualify for admission into the various universities in Ghana and the world over. The current headmaster, Dr. Alexis Frimpong-Nimoh is a member of the Conference of Heads of Assisted Senior Secondary schools (CHASS) in Ghana. OWASS today is a much larger than its inception. In 1952, the school began with 60 boys and this number has significantly risen to over 3,000 boys presently.
OWASS opened its doors on 28 February 1952 to 60 young boys to the school, originally called Yaa Asantewaa College. Two weeks after the school opened, the name was changed to Opoku Ware School following consultations with and instructions from the Manhyia Palace. This was to honour one of the most illustrious Asante Kings, who in May 1744 approached the Roman Catholic Mission at the Elmina Castle to educate Asante youth.
Katakyie Opoku Ware I, ruled Asanteman between 1720 and 1750. A past student of the school is known as Katakyie (conquering hero) the title by which Nana Opoku Ware I was known, principally for the expansionist drive of Asanteman’s frontiers, and for which he became famously known.
The late Rev. Fr. P. R. Burgess, An Oxford University graduate, was the first headmaster of the school. He was the son of an Irish draper and a former major in the British Army. He was a Polyglot and spoke Italian and French fluently. He also spoke Aramaic. The boys spent their first night at St. Paul’s house, the only dormitory in what was a desolate clearing. Two small rooms next to that house served as their dining hall, their assembly hall and their classroom.
By 1955, the school had five dormitories (St Paul, St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke and St John), ten classrooms, three science laboratories, an administration block, dining hall, kitchen, library, and 17 staff bungalows. There were 450 students attending the school.
A Sixth Form was established in 1958, to provide courses in both the arts and sciences. A Cadet Corps was formed in 1960.
Presently, the boys are housed in ten houses. There are over 74 classrooms, six science laboratories, two libraries, a science resource center, computer centre, language laboratory, and French and German languages teaching centres.
There are 36 staff bungalows, a block of eight flats and quarters for junior administrative staff, cooks, and pantry boys. There is also a staff canteen, a chapel, a dining hall, and a sick bay.
Opoku Ware School has won the Ghana National Math and Science Quiz two times in 1997 and in 2002. They have been in the finals seven times
Opoku Ware School is the only school in Ghana who have handed the heaviest NATIONAL SCIENCE AND MATHS QUIZ defeat to Prempeh College, one of the grade A schools in Ghana,in a 96–46 score that shocked the air waves in Ghana.
The school has won 9 out of the 13 Superzonals Athletic competition recent years in the Ashanti region. The school has produced several national athletes and Olympians including Ohene Karikari, Sandy Osei Agyemang, and Christian Nsiah.
There are 10 houses named after various Saints in the Catholic faith. They are St. John, St Mathew, St Mark, St Luke, St Paul, St Peter, St James, St Andrews, St Philip and St Thomas. The idea of sustainability was incorporated not only in the architecture of the houses but most buildings in the school. Each of the houses as well as most of the staff bungalow has an underground well which provides water for the boys when there is shortage of water. Each house has a special sets of numbers it accepts.
In addition to the housemaster, each house has a House Prefect and an assistant who are chosen from the oldest year. There are house gatherings once a week and usually happens in the morning before classes. The housemaster and boys have an opportunity to make announcements during house meetings; the boys get the opportunity to voice the views and express grievances. Each house participates in weekly morning mass at the school chapel on rotational basis. Many inter-house competitions occur, mostly in the field of sport. For much of the school’s history, first year boys have to act as servants, to older boys. Their duties mostly includes cleaning, and running errands.
Headmasters of OWASS
Rev. Father Burges (1952–1961)
In March 1961, Father Burgess was given his marching orders from Ghana, having preposterously been accused of interfering in the nation’s politics. In reality, he had refused to admit the son of a government minister who had not made the required grade. His principled stand cost him his job and parted him from his dear school, but his values continue to inspire.
Leo Kalinauckas (1961–1963)
An Englishman of Lithuanian heritage, who ran the school between 1961 and 1963.
Kwame Adu-Amankwah (1963–1969)
In 1963, the school had its first Ghanaian headmaster in the person of the late Mr. Kwame Adu-Amankwah, who was headmaster until 1969, when he left to join the new government of Dr. K. A. Busia as the Eastern Regional Minister, and subsequently Ghana’s Ambassador to Mexico. During his time, the school’s academic performance improved remarkably, and St. Peter House and the Gambrah Library were both constructed in 1966. He had a reputation as very strict disciplinarian and dedicated Catholic.
Stephen Oduro’ (1971–1978)
During his time, OWASS saw another wave of expansion, with a new dining hall, the Soweto classroom block, new staff bungalows and another dormitory, St. Andrew House. A new assembly hall and a new headmaster’s bungalow were also commenced.
Peter Owusu-Donko (1978–1987)
He steered the school through the difficult mid-1980s, which saw unprecedented bush fires, drought, fuel shortages and food crisis in the country A strong disciplinarian, he managed to guide the school during these stormy waters with great help from the Catholic Church.
James Dapaah Berko (1987–2003)
As the first alumnus headmaster of the school, Mr. Berko went on to hold the post for a record sixteen years. During his time, the school saw many reforms and academic performance improved remarkably. Other successes chalked included winning the National Brilliant Science and Maths Quiz on two occasions (1997 and 2002) as well as several regional sporting championships. It was during his tenure that the old students initiated the construction of an ultra-modern ICT centre for the school.
Stephen Anokye (2003–2011)
Again, the school continued to grow from strength, winning several academic and sporting laurels. Staff morale was high. During his time, a new house (St. Philip) and new library project were commenced and completed. The PTA also commenced a major classroom block project. A new assembly hall was also commenced under Mr. Anokye’s tenure.
F. Matthew Oppong Mensah (2011–2015)
Determined to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessors. A tenth dormitory is currently under construction.
(**Rev. Fr. Habits and Mr. T. Bediakoh served as Acting Headmasters for short periods)
Dr. Alexis Frimpong-Nimoh (2015 – Present)
Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi, former NDC Minister of State,
Okyerema Asante, percussionist
Ohene Karikari, former national athlete and Africa’s number one sprinter during his time
Dr. Jacob Kwakye-Maafo, physician, surgeon and CEO of West End Clinic, Kumasi
Prof Christian Nsiah, Olympic athlete and Business Economics professor at Black Hills State Uni
Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, Former Finance Minister and current MP for Old Tafo
Ernest Owusu-Poku former Inspector General of Police, Ghana
Akwasi Appiah (O 123) the current head coach of the Ghana Black Stars.
Paul Victor Obeng, Mechanical engineer, Politician and former chairman of KNUST council
Ken Kuranchie(AK 63) Managing Editor, Daily Searchlight, Civil rights advocate
Dr. Osei Akoto Afriyie (B43) Former Kwadaso MP, current Minister for Food and Agricultural
Dr. Felix Anyah (F209), CEO of Holy Trinity Spa in Sogakope.
Dr.Richard K Okine Inventor(C3) (fuel cells) holding several US patents
Dr. Ohene Boachie Adjei(G8)who recently performed a spinal surgery on former President John Agyekum Kufour
Mr. Justice Stephen A. Brobbey(Y76) Supreme Court Judge and former Chief Justice of The Gambia