H.E. Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang is the former Africa Board Chairperson of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE).
1. What critical action can governments take to secure national investments in girls’ education, especially given competing national priorities?
Governments must continuously demonstrate that education is the fulcrum of all development, the hub around which all spokes - security, health, the economy, climate change, equality, human rights and others revolve.
2. What do you see as the main pillars for change to overcome barriers to girls’ education? And what is the role of domestic finance and Finance Ministers in achieving this?
A major pillar is effective public education on the importance of effective education for all, especially for girls and women to ground their central role in the life of the family, society, self.
When finance ministries sustain focus on the education of girls and women, they may be pleasantly surprised that going forward, less and less state resources will be spent on health, energy, security, sanitation, water, protecting the environment, wellbeing and more.
3. FAWE recently published recommendations to revamp African education systems for the COVID-19 generation of learners and beyond. In your view, what transformative investments are needed by governments and other actors to ensure that post-COVID-19 education systems are inclusive and equitable?
This is a fine opportunity to move beyond numbers, critical though they are, to the content of what girls and women are learning and who they are becoming. This is a key opportunity for diversified approaches to learning.
We recommend retooling the whole learning concept to emphasize outcomes, in line with economies and opportunities for innovation and its attendant creativity.
The weaknesses and gaps laid bare by the pandemic need serious attention. Investments need to be made in teachers, learning equipment and, crucially, learning with real applicable outcomes.
4. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on global education systems. Estimates report that up to 20 million girls may never return to school. Why is GPE’s financing campaign so important in this context?
This campaign is key in answering the question of out of school children, especially girls.
If we base our conviction on the premise that everyone can learn, then we can reach out of school girls too, with different modes of learning. The longer we keep girls out of school, the further the number increases and the more the desire for global peace will elude us all.
5. What do you remember most about school? Were there moments or teachers that had a particularly big impact on you?
I found school to be a fun place, making friends, learning and discovering new things. The most impactful teachers were those who smiled, encouraged, tolerated, and who recognized that some flowers take time to bloom.