Africa Leaders Magazine

JANE NAANA OPOKU-AGYEMANG-FIRST FEMALE RUNNING MATE FOR A MAJOR POLITICAL PARTY IN GHANA

In the charming coastal town of Cape Coast, Ghana, on a crisp November day in 1951, a remarkable story began. It was the day when Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, a name destined for greatness, came into this world.

Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang’s journey through life led her to become a distinguished figure in Ghanaian politics and academia. Her story took a significant turn in 2013 when she was entrusted with the pivotal role of Minister for Education in Ghana. It was an appointment that came after the fervent political landscape of the 2012 Ghanaian general election.

As the Minister for Education, Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang embarked on a mission to shape the future of Ghana’s education system. Her vision and dedication left an indelible mark on the country’s educational landscape during her tenure, which extended until January 2017 when the winds of political change brought the Nana Akuffo-Addo administration to power. Throughout this period, she remained steadfast in her affiliation with the National Democratic Congress, a testament to her unwavering commitment to her principles.

In the December 2020 Ghanaian presidential election, she partnered  John Mahama as his running mate on the NDC party ticket. Mahama made an official declaration of Opoku-Agyeman as his running mate on July 6, 2020 becoming the first female running mate of the major political party.

 

Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang’s story is not confined to the realm of politics alone. She is a distinguished academic in her own right, holding the honor of being the first female Vice-Chancellor of a state University in Ghana. The University of Cape Coast, a place of knowledge and inspiration, witnessed her remarkable leadership when she assumed her role as Vice-Chancellor on October 1, 2008. In this capacity, she succeeded Emmanuel Addow-Obeng, marking a historic moment in Ghana’s academic landscape.

But before her academic and political endeavors, young Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang had her roots in education. Her educational journey took her to the hallowed halls of the Anglican Girls’ Secondary School in Koforidua and the Aburi Presby Girls’ School. These early days of learning laid the foundation for a lifelong dedication to education and a commitment to making a difference in the lives of others.

Professor Opoku-Agyemang’s journey through education started at Wesley Girls High School, a place where she not only learned but also discovered her passion for learning. From 1964 to 1971, she immersed herself in the world of knowledge, sowing the seeds of her future endeavors.

Her academic pursuits took her to the University of Cape Coast, where she pursued a B.Ed. (Hons) degree in English and French, a testament to her love for languages and literature. This was not just a degree; it was a stepping stone towards her lifelong dedication to education.

The thirst for knowledge led her across the seas to York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she embarked on a remarkable journey. In 1980, she earned her master’s degree, followed by a doctorate in 1986. Her academic achievements knew no bounds, and she was now armed with the wisdom and insight to effect change.

 

Returning to her roots at the University of Cape Coast in 1986, Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang began a new chapter. Her academic career blossomed as she took on various roles, from Head of the Department of English to Dean of the Faculty of Arts. She served as a guiding light, not just in the classrooms but also as the Warden of Adehye Hall and the Valco Trust Fund Postgraduate Hostel.

Her journey continued to ascend as she assumed the prestigious position of Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research. She was not just an academic; she was a beacon of knowledge, illuminating the path for countless students.

In 1997, a new chapter began as she took on the role of Academic Director of the School for International Training, focusing on the History and Cultures of the African Diaspora. Her expertise and dedication to African history resonated far beyond the lecture halls.

The pinnacle of her academic career came when she was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of the University from 2008 to 2012. It was a testament to her leadership and commitment to higher education. Her influence extended even beyond the university’s borders.

In March 2007, she was chosen as one of five distinguished scholars to address the United Nations Headquarters in New York City during the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery. Her words echoed through the halls of global diplomacy, leaving an indelible mark and in  October 2009, she assumed the role of Ghana’s representative to the Executive Board of UNESCO, a position that reflected her dedication to education on a global scale. Her influence transcended academia and politics.

Throughout her journey, she has received numerous honors and accolades. Honorary degrees from the University of West Indies and Winston-Salem University, along with a Global Leadership award from the University of South Florida in Tampa, were testaments to her profound impact on education and leadership.

In the grand tapestry of her life, Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang’s story stands as an inspiration. Her passion for education, her dedication to fostering change, and her indomitable spirit have left an enduring legacy for generations to come. She is a beacon of knowledge, a trailblazer in academia, and a symbol of unwavering commitment to making the world a better place through education.

Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang’s story is a testament to the power of determination, education, and service to one’s nation. It’s a story that continues to inspire and shape the future of Ghana, leaving an enduring legacy for generations to come.

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