THE PURPOSE OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ST. CHARLES
True to her mission, education has always been part and parcel of the evangelizing mission of the Church with the view to combating ignorance and promoting integral human development. Thus, in keeping with this noble tradition of the church, the White Fathers established St. Charles to train/form local priests and lay people for service in the Church and society at large.
THE INFRASTRUCTURE AT THE START OF THE SCHOOL IN TAMALE
The school started with only two buildings; one was used by the students and the other was occupied by the priests who made up the staff. The building used by the students served as dormitory, classroom, chapel, assembly hall etc. Within a very short time however, two dormitory blocks, a chapel cum assembly hall, and a storey building to house the teaching priests were constructed. All these buildings sprang up within the period of four and a half (41/2) years. These facilities were put up by the hardworking Brothers Willie Ludwig Suzo, Lussier Germain and Laurenzo. Buildings like the present library, Science Laboratory, dinning hall were later developments.
HEADMASTERS AND OTHER PROMINENT STAFF MEMBERS
When the school moved from Wiaga to Tamale, it was headed by Fr. Ken Haskew with a staff of about eight (8) priests who at times were merely in transit or waiting to be posted.
Fr. Ken Haskew was succeeded by Fr. Briody. Other Headmasters or Rectors that followed include: Frs. Avila Lafrance, G. Charboneau, P. Laframboise, G. Lincourt, Bro. Stephen Custers, Bro. Arnold Schmal, Fr. Arnold Anglaaere, Mr. P. Kelly and presently Bro. Luke Bangnikon. Other teaching staff worth mentioning includes Fr. Paul Haskew (brother of Ken Haskew), Fr. Paul Perrault, erstwhile Fr. Rudolf Akanlu, Fr. G. Ouellette, Frs. G. Delbe, P. Walters, Victor Gregoire, H. Herrity, G. Theriault, P. Shanahan.
Bros. Rudolf Keith and Alex Schrenk have spent many years of their youthful life as bursars, general developers of the infrastructure and the farming sector.
Lay teachers that have served in St. Charles in the early years include: Hilary Ziniyel, Benedict Der, Bartosiewicz, E.N. Delle, Saani Nuhu, Alexander Naah, N. Dasobri, Flyn, Sigrist, Branigan, Vincent Kerr, Roetz, Oscar Anglandong, Dominic Angbempuo. Other names are: John Amissa, Anthony Kutame, Peter Antwi, A.A. Arrow, Ernest Ahiako, Albert Telly, Solomon Dabuo, Emmanuel Yakubu, Abantariba, Brown, Alhassan Wahabu, Paschal Atandem, Alou, John Kanyirzele, John Tuoyiri, Paul Kaleem, Simon Tarko, Micheal Aburiya, Gabriel Gbolo, Philip Issahaku, Richard Yakubu etc. etc. The longest lay teacher in the school is Mr. Fred Kyiu.
SUBJECTS TAUGHT IN THOSE DAYS
The subjects which were taught in St. Charles included: Latin, English, English Literature, French, Geography, History, Traditional Mathematics, Add Maths, General Science, Bible Studies.
The first three (3) batches of students wrote the Cambridge School Certificate Examination, with separate examination for sixth form. It was the fourth batch that started the West African Certificate Examinations in the year 1960. In those days, there was close academic collaboration between St. Charles and Opoku Ware Secondary School in Kumasi.
DISCIPLINE AND GENERAL ATMOSPHERE IN ST. CHARLES
Mr. Isidore Langmane, an old boy of the school of the 1960 year group, reports that there was no need for a fence to keep students in as the student body was so small that the absence of any body was immediately noticed. With time, however, there was the need for a fence to be constructed to secure the land, keep off animals and human intruders as well as keep the students in. The fence was put up in the late Sixties. The athletic field was also put up at this time.
The students were also to interact in pairs especially those from the Upper West and Upper East Regions who at the time were virtually the only groups. He observes that when students from the Northern Region started coming to St. Charles, Navrongo and Wa dioceses had already started to establish their own Minor Seminaries, Notre Dame and St. Francis Xavier respectively. He further relates that students mixed freely with the teaching priests and were bound to take one as a spiritual director or confessor. That Wednesday afternoons were free from formal classes and students could take a walk with their lunch pack of sardine and bread. This outing could be to any place of interest. Late coming was not tolerated. Permission was also granted occasionally for group visits to carry out legionary and catechetical apostolate.
OTHER MATTERS OF GENERAL INTEREST
Here, Mr. Isidore Langmagne reports as follows:
Until the school year had changed with the new academic year, the school terms were two, a break in May/June and again in December. St. Charles students paid fees either in cash or in kind. This was paid to the Local Manager of schools in their home parish or to the school. In lieu of money an American tin of guinea corn or millet was accepted.
Students were withdrawn if their behaviour was not conducive in the school environment, or when a bad report from the parish priest was received by the school authorities or a student was found to be academically weak. A student could also decide to withdraw voluntarily.
Although the student body was small we used to play football matches with the town teams, and later with sister schools in town. The school had the privilege to be coached by C.K. Gyamfi any time this catholic footballer visited Tamale.
The school for the first four years had no uniform. One could wear any clothes once they were neat, modest and presentable. A white shirt and a khaki short were introduced in 1957 as the official school uniform.
Daily mass was compulsory and students and staff attended Mass every day. Games and sports were equally compulsory. Periodic excursions especially to the Black Volta were made during public holidays but in the company of a priest. The school had a very strong and effective scouting organization, as well as the Legion of Mary.
The school kitchen had a staff of two female cooks and a male to help stir the meals that needed more energy. The male helper also served the kitchen staff with water and performed odd jobs.
Water problem in Tamale has been a chronic issue. Water was rolled in drums daily from the Bulpiela dam to the school by only two labourers. This water was to serve both students and staff. Later the situation improved by harvesting rainwater through gutters on roofs into cisterns or available containers. A very big and wide well was also dug but could not yield water throughout the year. A borehole was tried but delivery per minute was found too low and therefore abandoned.
To finish up, a student of St. Charles was given an all round education. He was formed by training to be morally upright and academically strong and confident.
With this set objective we can confidently mention a few areas of endeavours where the products of St. Charles are found. In the field of Administration we have so many. We have produced an Inspector General of Police in the person of Peter Nanfuri. Our Lawyers are several. Agriculturists, Engineers, Medical Doctors. We have professors both locally and abroad who are vice Chancellors or Presidents of Universities. In the Religious field we have produced four Bishops and several priests. Incidentally one year group has produced two Bishops and four priests from a class of fifteen. This is a record yet to be beaten and therefore worth mentioning.
This brief cannot cover the fifty years we are celebrating. The year groups shall have to add their experiences to make the history of St. Charles Minor Seminary/Secondary School a complete account of the period we are celebrating. As for recent developments they are only too vivid and fresh in our minds. It is our hope that St. Charles will continue “to fight the good fight” until the appearing of our lord Jesus Christ.
Long live St. Charles! Long live the founding Fathers of St. Charles! Long live Catholic Education!