From Ghana With Love
When Patrick Awuah left Ghana in the 1980s to take up a scholarship in the US, he had just ‘$50 in his pocket’. Fast forward to today and Mr Awuah has $500,000 in his pocket (or at least in his bank account) after he became the latest winner of the Wise Prize, a major global education award, for founding Ashesi University College back in his home country and for his campaign work to raise higher education standards across Africa. It was after a successful career with tech giant Microsoft that Mr Awuah returned to Ghana to set up the private, not for profit college that aims to nurture leaders both in Ghana and across the African continent. Mr Awuah said: “We started with the idea of ethical leaders and entrepreneurial leaders. What we’re trying to achieve is a network of high-quality institutions in Africa – and to be more intentional about teaching future leaders. Not just political leaders, but judges, doctors and teachers – the people who will influence other people. If we are to lift the continent up, we need to educate great scientists and engineers. We need to link with other universities around the world.” If numbers of students are anything to go by, Ashesi has got off to a great start: from just 30 students when the college opened in 2002, there are now 800 on campus from 18 African countries. What’s more around half the students are women and half again are on scholarships. As well as having to study ethics and entrepreneurship, all students have to carry out community service to help give them a “broader perspective” and to encourage them “to ponder the big questions about what kind of country we want”. Mr Awuah added: “This is a crucial moment for Africa. Today, one out of six people on Earth lives in Africa, and this is set to rise to one in four by 2050. We urgently need to boost the education system in Africa”. Is it just the editor who thinks the $50 all those years ago in the 1980s was money well spent?