From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

All you need to know about The Sierra Leone Bo Government School
By The Bo Government School
Apr 13, 2006, 13:17

The Bo School was the brain-child of the then Governor of Sierra Leone, Sir Leslie Probyn, with the encouragement of the then Secretary of State for the colonies.

The Principal, Raymond Bob Katta

The school was inaugurated on the pattern of an English public school. Thus in March 1906, the school was established in Bo, in the south eastern province of Sierra Leone. At the opening ceremony, there were many prominent people, including Paramount Chief Madam Yoko of Moyamba, Chief Baimba Hotagua of Bo and Chief Sandy of Tikonko representing the Mende land, and Chief Ibrahim Sanda representing Temne land. On the opening day, there were thirty-two pupils who had already enrolled.

The chief aim of the founders was to educate the sons and nominees of the chiefs in such a manner, that after their return to their chiefdoms, they would assist the chiefs and tribal authorities in carrying out their administrative duties. For this reason, pupils of the Bo School were proscribed from entering general government employment. This policy continued up to 1916, when it was rescinded, thus allowing the absorption of Bo School graduates into the colonial civil and other services.

The Vice Principal and Head of Department, Social Sciences, Jeremiah A. Kpaka

The Rev. James Proudfoot was the first principal of the school and was shortly joined by two European assistants. Some more were recruited as the need arose. Native teachers were recruited to reflect tribal groupings of the pupils. These teachers were in reality interpreters for the European teachers, since the pupils were non-English speaking. In fact, some of the early Principals also served as District Commissioners or Directors of Education in the colony at the same time. During the period, Creoles were not allowed to teach in the school for fear that they could influence boys from the protectorate.

A foundation pupil of Bo School, Ngolo Tamba Lamboi, Admission Number 19

The very first group of Bo School Boys attempted the Cambridge School Certificate only in 1943. For over fifty years since its establishment, the school received permanent support from the British Colonial Office.

The pupils’ quarters comprised four groups of huts, two groups for the mendes and the other two for the Temnes. As competitions in athletics and games in general came to be organised, the four groups of huts were given names by the pupils themselves after large cities in Britain and Europe. The largest group of huts was called London, the second Liverpool, the third Paris and the fourth Berlin. Berlin was however renamed Manchester in 1914 after the outbreak of the First World War in token manifestation of school boy patriotism.

Prefects of the Bo Government Secondary School, 2004-2005 Academic Year.

By the end of the first five years of the school, the native teachers had become redundant as interpreters, the reason being that some of the pupils in the top classes had surpassed them in education. As a result, the prefectorial system was introduced in 1911. The prefects appointed assisted in the actual teaching process, particularly of the younger boys. To help the proficiency of the prefects in this, a prefects’ class was setup, where more advanced lessons were taught in literature, elementary mathematics, general science, geography and political economy. The European scholars of course taught these subjects.

As most of the Mende and Temne pupils were muslims, a devout and respected Muslim by the name of Alpha Ahmed Tijan, was appointed to the staff as Arabic teacher to allay the fears of Muslim parents regarding the religious up-bringing of their children. In addition to his Arabic teaching, he became a liaison officer between the European staff and the pupils.

Back row (L-R) - Moses Dumbuya, Joe Kamanda, Theophilus Williams, Alieu M Corneh; Front row(L-R): Winston Banya, Richard Tucker, Joko N. Macfoy

In 1937, a Junior Cambridge Certificate was established and the school became a full secondary school in 1940. By this time, admission to the school had ceased to be limited to only the sons and nominees of chiefs. The first batch of candidates for the higher school certificate was sent in 1954. The pupils, at that time, were housed in modern buildings with full- fledged Sierra Leonean teachers amongst staff.

Foundation Date:

More specifically, it was in March 1906 (March 29th) that the Government Secondary School, Bo, The Bo School, as the school is fondly called, was   established in the then protectorate of Sierra Leone. The school compound comprises   13.5 acres of land in the heart of Bo Town, the second largest town in Sierra Leone.

Aims and Objectives:

The British colonial educators had hoped to turn out future chiefs and others who would be contented with their lot, "educated enough to  introduce better ways of farming and administration in their chiefdoms". Indeed,   after completion of education in Bo School, School leavers returned to their   respective chiefdoms to help in chiefdom administration. Some of them became   chiefdoms clerks, Treasury clerks, Sanitary Officers, Town planners and Private   Businessmen. Bo School Boys were forbidden to work in the Government Civil   Service at least up to the early 1950’s. In keeping with the aims and objectives of   the establishment of the institution, the school was not developed into a formal   secondary school status until t he early 1940’s. The very first group of Bo School   boys attempted the Cambridge school certificate only in 1943.

Initial Support:

For over fifty years of its founding, Bo School received permanent support from the British Colonial Office. Most of the teaching Staff were recruited   from England. Infact, some of the early Principals also served as District   Commissioners or Directors of Education in the Colony at the same time. No Krio or   colony person was allowed to teach in the school for fear of influencing the boys.

The Physical Structures:

The physical structures of the school went through many transitional periods. The initial Round Hunts, then used as dormitories, were changed to rectangular Bamboo Dormitories in the early 1920s. The classrooms also built with mud blocks replaced the early ones about this same period. Some of the mud block   classrooms are still in existence today.There was a complete change in the physical   structure of the school when the present two-storey dormitories-four in number, with   the Administrative Blocks and the Science Laboratories were constructed in the in the   early 1950s from the British Development and Welfare Fund. With the expansion of the school, the Dormitories cannot now accommodate all the pupils the school would want to cater for. These dormitories were built when the school roll was about 400. The present roll is approximately 860 pupils, all boys, ages 11 - 18, admitted from all   the twelve districts and from among all the ethnic groups of the country. The school’s   population both among past and present pupils is always national in composition.   Here lies out strength as a national/unifying institution.

History of OBBA

The organisation known as the Old Bo Boys Association (OBBA), came into being in 1929 as a result of a circular letter sent by an ex-pupil, Mr. Amadu Wurie (#55) and supported by the then principal of the school, Mr. Vincent F. De Leslie., who became its first president, with Mr. Amadu Wurie, its first secretary. At Eastertide of 1929, OBBA first for the first time, the aim being to reaffirm their devotion to their alma mater and to solicit/pledge funds to further develop the institution. This initiative was embraced by the Old Boys of the School and led to the foundation of a number of chapters of OBBA both nationally and internationally. In 1953 for instance,, ex-pupils of the school studying in Britain started a branch of the Association in London. It is still in existence today and it is believed to be the first of its kind established by ex-pupils of any educational institution in West Africa. Other branches of OBBA have been developed all over the world especially in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and in most states of the USA and Canada.


The primary aim of OBBA then and now is to develop link between ex-pupils   and the school and to help bring some development in the school particularly   when ex-pupils of the school are found in all works of life not only in the   country but the world over. OBBA’s main source of funding is from its membership through subscription   and generous donations from individual Branches, individual ex-pupils and   well-wishers.

Achievements of OBBA

Bo School/OBBA has made positive contributions to the economic, educational, social and cultural development of Sierra Leone in many ways. This was the message from His Excellency Dr. Siaka P. Stevens, first President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, to members of OBBA on  the occasion of the Jubilee celebration in March 1979:

Bo school has been a trail blazer in the annals of Sierra Leone’s education progress in more ways than one. While serving as a centripetal force for various ethnic groups at a formative level, the school at the same time provided a halo from which surrounding peoples benefited immensely. In the new national system, your role should be even easier. I congratulate members of OBBA on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee Celebration. Much to the pleasure of succeeding generations of administrators, the school has been exerting a wholesome influence disproportionate to its foundation. Indeed the history of Provinces might have been different without the leadership products of the school in chieftaincy and other fields of endeavor. The enviable reputation and distinguished role of your products in nation building should be maintained if the school is to count in the nation’s esteem.

National leaders have been associated with OBBA since its inception and Presidents and Vice Presidents of the country have actively participated in OBBA celebrations. Recently, President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah became a honorary pupil of the Bo School.

On April 13,1974, OBBA presented a new library building to the school, the Dr. Drissa Yilla Memorial Library. The Golden Jubilee was celebrated in 1981. The Bo school endowment fund was formally established on April 20,1984 with a target amount of Le1, 000,000 which was to be subscribed over a period of ten years,1984-1994.

In 1979, Abu A Koroma was popularly elected National President of OBBA to succeed Paramount Chief R .B. S. Koker. President A. A. Koroma revived the association and extended its activities to regions throughout the country. When Dr. Sama S. Banya became OBBA National president after wards, he was able to secure the present marching band for the school in 1997 which is now the pride of the school. At the 61st annual meeting of OBBA in April 1990, Alie Dausy Wurie, (#.307), initiated the two classroom-building project to be undertaken by OBBA. The buildings were later completed and furnished by the Wurie family. With input from the ministry of education, the buildings were dedicated to the memory of Korthor A. D. Wurie at OBBA 2000. In March 2000, a new national executive was elected with [late] Hon. A. O. Bangura as president succeeding Dr. S. S. Banya. A new board of governors was constituted with Dr. T. O. Matturi as chairman succeeding Dr Momodu Yilla in January 2001, Mr. Raymond Bob Katta was appointed principal of the school to succeed the longest serving principal in the history of the school Mr Festus M.Seiwoh,1978-2000. Bo school will be 100 years in 2006. It is the wish of OBBA to present a new dormitory to the school as a special gift on the occasion. It is also hoped that OBBA will erect an obelisk/Edifice as a symbol marking 100 years of Bo school as centre of learning in Sierra Leone.

National OBBA

OBBA maintains a national executive tha both provides leadership for the Sierra Leonean chapter and coordinates the activities of all OBBA organizations worldwide.

United Kingdom and United States Branches of OBBA

Diaspora organizations of OBBA have existed for a long time now and former students are actively involved in the life of the school. Some OBBA organizations in Europe and the United States maintain web sites.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.