Founder of the First Deaf School in Ghana Honoured on his 90th Birthday

Published on July 25, 2022 by

Management of the Tetteh-Ocloo State School for the Deaf – the first ever government deaf school in the Ghana has celebrated the legacy of its founder – Dr. Seth Lawrence Tetteh-Ocloo, at a ceremony on the School premises at Adjei-Kojo, a suburb of Tema.

The event coincided with the 90th Birthday of the founder whose immense contribution led to the establishment of the school in August 1957.

Addressing the gathering, the Headteacher of the School, Isaac Arthur, indicated that, both staffs and pupils of the school are excited at the opportunity to see the Founder of their beloved school in person for the first time.

He explained that the contribution of Dr. Seth Tetteh-Ocloo has gained much recognition especially in the Ghana Education Service (GES) resulting in the change of name of the school from the State School of the Deaf to now Tetteh-Ocloo State School of the Deaf.

Mr. Arthur expressed gratitude to the Tetteh-Ocloo family and the government for their support in running the affairs of the school over the years. He asserted that government has built a Vocational Center for the students of the school to learn various crafts such as dressmaking, hairdressing among other vocational skills.
The Headteacher who was elated at meeting the first Head teacher of the school, Elizabeth Tetteh-Ocloo who happens to be the spouse of the Founder Seth Lawrence Tetteh Ocloo.

“The school is a basic school from Kindergarten up to Junior High School with the pupils writing the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in their final year. I am glad our first ever Headmistress is here with us and I am the ninth headteacher,” he indicated.

On his part, the Founder of the school, Dr. Seth Tetteh-Ocloo appreciated all the persons that helped him in fulfilling his dream of helping the deaf community since 1957. He attributed his strength to the words of encouragement in the Bible which states that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made powerful in your weakness”.

He singled out his wife and family for praise for their dedication and support for his work among the deaf community in Ghana and abroad.

“All I can say is thank you lord for bringing me this far. You Lord has blessed me. For me being deaf, I have served the deaf and humanity since 1957 up till now. Thanks to all who have helped me along this long journey,” he said.

The Special Education Coordinator of the Ghana Education Service for the Tema West Municipal Assembly, representing the District Director of Education assured the gathering of the readiness of her office to continue their support services to the school to improve both teaching and learning activities in the school. She said the story of the founder and his wife has moved her to do more for the deaf school and community in general.

Present at the event were friends and relatives of Dr Seth Tetteh-Ocloo from the United States of America and other countries.


Founder of the Tetteh-Ocloo State School for the Deaf – Dr. Seth Lawrence Tetteh-Ocloo, Sr. He was born on April 19, 1932 in Sokpe in the Volta Region of Ghana, to the late Griffith Blemadzi Ocloo and Rosina Tsornyake Akafoh of blessed memory. His father was from the Korgbor Clan of the Ada traditional area; and his mother was from the Alorlor clan of the Sokpe traditional area.

Dr. Tetteh Ocloo had admission into the Government Secondary Technical School in Takoradi where he planned to study science towards a future career in engineering. It was in the first week of August 1952, that Seth contracted Spinal Meningitis and fell unconscious. He regained consciousness three days later, but shocking found he had lost his hearing completely and his ability to stand, much less walk.

All who came to see him thought it was a temporary illness and that he would regain his sense of hearing in a few days.

Dr. Seth Tetteh-Ocloo’s story took a new dimension in the last week of July 1957, when the Social Welfare Department sent word to Seth to come and meet an American who had come to Ghana to explore the possibility of starting a school for deaf children.

When Seth finally met this man, the Rev. Andrew Foster (an African-American missionary), he was astonished at the man he saw, particularly since Seth was not aware that deaf people even went to school, Seth found that Andrew Foster was not only deaf, but also an ordained Christian Minister.

Andrew Foster invited Seth to join him in establishing the first school for the deaf in Ghana in August 1957. Dr. Seth Ocloo following the example of his mentor, Rev. Andrew Foster, he enrolled at the American School in Chicago and studied by correspondence for three years and earned a High School Diploma. He graduated thereafter with a degree in Psychology from Gallaudet College, and a Master’s Degree in Deaf in Education from the same University in 1965. He made history as the first deaf African to receive Graduate and Masters Degrees. This groundbreaking accomplishment made headlines in both Ghana and the United State of America. President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Ghana’s Ambassador to the US attended Seth’s graduation and personally handed his Master’s Degree to him crowning his extraordinary efforts and achievement.

After returning to Ghana to work with the Social Welfare Department, he got a grant from the Kwame Nkrumah Trust Fund to found the State School for the deaf at Osu, Accra in June 1966 (the first State School for the Deaf in Ghana.) The school now known as the Tetteh-Ocloo State School for the Deaf acquired land from the Tema Development Cooperation at Adjei-Kojo where it is currently located.

As part of Self-fulfillment and setting an example for the younger deaf Ghanaians, he furthered his education and earned his PHD in the spring of 1973 from the Illinois University in Carbondale.

He also taught many schools in USA and held various positions such as the Principal, Supervisor and Director of the Statewide Assessment Center for the Hearing Impaired at the Louisiana School for the Deaf before retiring from active service.

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