The Bo Government Secondary School on Easter past celebrated her 101 years of exceptional excellence in all fields of life in the country and overseas.
Starting way back in 1906 with only ten thatched huts lined on a broad street with five on either side for the sons and nominees of paramount chiefs, and starting not as a secondary school, with the boys barefoot and in traditional attires; with rapid curriculum changes, and with her achievement of a full fledged secondary status only in the 1950s, looking back thus brings laurels to celebrate and to plan for the other centenary that lies ahead.
Originally, the school started as a training field in farming, bridge building, road making, carpentry and land surveying, with emphasis on labour as being necessary and a part of education as knowledge of reading, writing and arithmetic.
The school initially opened with boys from the Temne dominated north and Mende dominated south. Initially there were brawls between the boys as their backgrounds and beliefs were diverse but life later settled to normal as time went by, thus no more grouping of Temne and Mende boys, but Bo School boys.
The boys originally named their dormitories as London, Liverpool and Paris, but later to show sympathy with the colonial power when war broke out in Europe in 1939, they instead changed Berlin to Manchester. More advanced lessons in the literature, elementary mathematics, geography, general science and political economy started in 1914, which brought about the prefectoral system in the school.
However, as most of the graduates of the school did not fit in the shoes of their dead fathers due to many reasons, after much opposition from the government, Principal Tom Smith succeeded in letting boys from the school compete in the civil service entrance examinations.
Bo School boys swept the board and secured practically all the top places in the examinations at their first attempt in 1916.
Since then past pupils of the school had been found with excellence in all walks of life, and they dominated the first post-colonial government of this nation.
Also, since then the friendship that boys found on the campus had been kept even after leaving the school and some till death.
A demonstration and legacy of this national integration, for which the school was founded, can be seen in the old boys association, which is the strongest and most effective organization in this nation: the Old Bo Boys Association (OBBA).
Articulating the way thus fa, the 2420 principal Raymond Bob Katta opined that it was “appropriate to recount our achievements over the years as well as to map out our way forward in the immediate post-centenary era.”
He continued to talk on the menial beginnings of the school up to her attaining of full school status in the ‘50s.
Principal Bob Katta further noted that as the school entered her second centenary, “we are certainly full of hopes for the future.” The school, he said, was on the verge of phasing out the JSS and becoming an exclusive SSS.
“We hope to actualize the establishment of a school of excellence specializing in the production of crème-de-la crème in science and technology, the liberal arts and games and sports.”
1166 Joe Amara Bangali spoke about the “Bo School regains her past glory as a cradle for the integration of tribes in this nation” and “as a solid foundation of our democracy.” He therefore stressed the importance of improving the living conditions of both the boys and workers at school.
He concluded: “If you want to see the Bo School, look every where, you will find [it].”
1795 Dr Baimba Bayoh, the president of OBBA, wittily spoke of 2015, which is the global stock taking of development aspirations of the world, and that the Bo School and OBBA “will definitely have something to be proud of.”
He went on to speak about how Bo School boys had excelled in all walks of life both at home and a broad.
In an absence letter of 2408 Dr Alpha T Wurie, education minister, talked on the 2004 Education Act making Bo School an exclusive SSS, but that the school must now adhere to the tenets of developing a sense of nationalism and patriotism in her students, sharpen the strength of discipline, develop literacy and debating skills, develop leadership training and community service training while at the same time developing music, science and technology.
The keynote speaker Prof Abdulai Mansaray, deputy vice chancellor of Njala University talking on “globalization and the challenge for education in Sierra Leone” classed the school as the “school of all times and seasons” and as “the school of the millennium” because of the eminence of her products in all walks of life both at home and abroad.
Due to the school’s contribution to global realities, he said, he had therefore chosen to talk on the above subject. The world, he said, “has changed and will continue to do so in very profound ways.”
In the present world, he said, “a country is no longer considered prosperous depending on much land and natural resources but depending on how many personnel with the appropriate knowledge and skills it can produce.”
At present, he said, “the world is divided into knowledge workers, manufacturing workers, natural product workers and devalued labour. All these relate to education because of it being the key factor in determining the socio-economic and political well-being of nations”.
To achieve the above aim, he noted “the country’s educational system should be placed on the learning process itself, that is on learning-how-to learn.”
He said there should be more linking of schoolwork outside the school.
The method of teaching he said should “encourage critical thinking, creativity and resourcefulness, as well as democratic classroom atmosphere”.