How it all began
At the beginning of 1966, the RMS Swiss School was founded in Accra, Ghana, thanks to the enormous initiative of the Swiss colony in Ghana. The married couple Gottfried and Marianne Bolleter, who as local businessmen played a major role in the development of the school, deserve special mention.
The Swiss school in Accra bears its name in memory of the Swiss missionary Friedrich August Ramseyer, who worked on the "Gold Coast" for 44 years from 1864 onwards. He first worked as a construction supervisor in Accra (then Christiansborg). In consideration of the health of his wife, he had to be transferred after three years. First he was entrusted with the school in Akropong, later he was to take over the mission station in Anum. However in the meantime the war of the British and the southern tribes against the Ashanti broke out in the south. F. A. Ramseyer was led with his family as a prisoner to Kumasi and was only released after 5 years.
Goal - a little bit of Switzerland in the middle of Africa
The founders of the school saw their goal in guaranteeing the numerous Swiss children in Ghana a school education adapted to the Swiss standard and thus a transfer to a secondary school in their home country. In order to really do justice to this goal, the upper school was also soon developed into a secondary school.
The school started in 1966 with only 23 pupils and 2 teachers. Throughout the years, the RMS Swiss School has never grown into a large school. Family atmosphere and individuality in the lessons have always been of great importance. In order to ensure that the children could take part in the lessons, they were always driven over enormous distances on incredibly bad roads to the school. A ll these years, a small hostel attached to the school practically offered the children from the more distant regions a much appreciated accommodation during the school days. The school has always had a nursery for 1-3 year old children, as well as a kindergarten. Today it is run in German and English and also offers parents of other nations the opportunity to bring their children into regular contact with friends of the same age at an early age.
In the course of the mobility of modern society, the Swiss school in Accra has also been subject to frequent changes. The number of classes and therefore the total number of students varies. Children come, children go. The school must offer the pupils more than just education; it is not just a place of learning. In Ghana the school embodies the everyday life of the children par excellence. Europe's unlimited leisure activities are unimaginable here. Classmates at school are often the only friends the children have.
The RMS Swiss School, Accra had every reason to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 1996 with an appropriate celebration, because the renovation work, which lasted a total of two years and brought a lot of unrest and hustle and bustle into the school operations, was finally completed.
Why was the only Swiss school on the African continent established?
On the one hand, this may well be linked to the long-standing tradition of the Basel Mission, which had its permanent representations in Ghana very early on. So in Switzerland Ghana was rather a well-known country and Swiss businessmen soon found their way there. On the other hand, Ghana became the first African nation to gain independence in 1957 and, compared to other African states, was always relatively stable politically. Until 2008, the RMS Swiss School was not a school for locals. It was clearly designed for German-speaking children. The language of instruction was German, the Zurich curriculum and the school conditions adapted to the Swiss standard were tailored to suit Europeans. Since there was no German school in Ghana, a large proportion of the pupils were of German and Austrian nationality
The RMS Swiss School has become the German Swiss International School-Accra. A joint sponsorship between Germany and Switzerland made this cooperation possible in order to establish the first German-English bilingual school in Accra, which teaches children bilingually from an early age. To this end, the teaching staff developed a new pedagogical concept that makes teaching with a bilingual curriculum possible. This basic pedagogical concept was based on the Thuringian curriculum for mainstream schools, that initially took into account Swiss elements in the German-speaking stream and the British National Curriculum for the English-speaking stream.
The teaching team is becoming more international. Not only German-speaking teachers from Switzerland and Germany are employed at the school, but also native English speakers from various nations who cover the English language teaching. The school is now more interesting for parents and children of different backgrounds and the image of the student body is changing. Nevertheless, the school retains its family character as a small school abroad.
At the beginning of the 2012/13 school year, the agreement on German-Swiss support expired. Due to the further decline in the number of Swiss pupils, it was not possible to continue the school as a Swiss school abroad within the meaning of the Swiss Abroad Education Act (AAG).
The GSIS Accra is now a recognized German School Abroad with a bilingual orientation. The educational concept is based on the Thuringian curriculum for regular schools in the German-speaking stream and the Cambridge Program for the English-speaking stream.