Africans solving African problems. We can't rely on anyone else. Not in the past, not now, not in the future and not even Trump! According to ASA founder Tom Ilube, perhaps the school can be a part of the catalyst that will lead to the chain reaction, that will make Africa great! A BIG AMBITION!
A bit of a background. In the early part of 2016, I had attended the 25th anniversary celebration of the London Nigerian Cricket Club (LNCC),an organisation jointly founded by the Ilube brothers. I thought this was a remarkable achievement and invited Tom as a special guest to our annual sports day, held summer 2016. He obliged. I was in the process of inviting him back as a speaker at our 5th Year anniversary celebration in the autumn of 2016 to be held at the House of Commons (HOC), only to learn he had set up the ASA. I thought this was extraordinary and I made a personal commitment to share this achievement within the NSF (UK) network. Just before his attendance, I received the breaking news, that from a PR perspective I had the hottest speaker at our event. Tom had then, just received confirmation, he was the most influential black person in the UK for 2017. His speech at our HOC event challenged our members to think BIG, think INSTITUTIONS and think GOVERNANCE. Our members did take Tom to task on a key question or two regarding ASA. Why Ghana? Why (STEM for) girls? His response to the latter, was simply, science was his passion, his choice of where to focus his energy, as the continent had so many challenges. On location, this was a more conducive environment for the school. He encouraged others to pick issues/problems and attempt to resolve them too, as every little helps.
Back to mid January 2017. So naturally when I got the invitation to the official ASA launch, curiosity got the better of me, especially as the accompanying invitation email had stated;
"We would be delighted if you could be our honoured witness to the historical moment when the doors to Africa's first all-girls STEM school are officially opened."
I must confess and shamefully too, that in my over half a century of existence, apart from Nigeria, I had never set foot in another African country. Of course straying over the border, once as a teenager, between our neighbours, Benin republic, can't count.
I grabbed the opportunity, dropping the many balls I had in the air, in the UK. I quickly navigated the many hurdles, including a much sleeker visa application process. I silently wondered if African nations compared /exchanged notes on the treatment they meted out to their citizens. Perhaps standards will improve if this was done? My experience of Ghana's was closer to what's expected in a civilised world. My 3,000+ miles journey took me to Accra , then Tema and what I saw was indeed historic.
It was a privilege to have witnessed the occasion. The many speeches; from those behind the project, the tremendous effort to make this happen, .the encouragement of support from the powers that be and most importantly, the girls, radiated ; confidence, sense of purpose, passion and responsibility for the continent.( Read the poem "My Africa" Rashidah Naluwuge and watch the video performance bring the poem to life).
Video 1-AFRICAN SCIENCE ACADEMY (ASA)-"My Africa" Poem recital by Rashidah Naluwuge
Video 2-AFRICAN SCIENCE ACADEMY (ASA):Ambitious girls
I am sure the words of encouragement from the STEM ambassador , the Managing Director of Airtel Ghana , Lucy Quist, will inspire the girls. If not, then the dance off between Tom & Lucy will surely do the trick ( watch clip at the end).
video 3-AFRICAN SCIENCE ACADEMY(ASA)-Guest Speaker-Lucy Quist (Managing Director of Airtel Ghana)
One of the speakers, the Ghanaian Minister designate for Information; Mustafa Abdul-Hamid had quoted Malcom X, "to educate a woman is to educate a whole nation". Perhaps the catalyst being sought by Tom? Now I fully understand his choice of an African problem to solve.
Finally, for me, I am simply inspired by Africans solving African challenges , as it's my belief that only African stakeholders can, if encouraged and given the opportunity. It is our responsibility to make this continent great.
ASA admitted its first intake of 24 students in August 2016.
Girls were from 7 different nationalities (Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo & Uganda) and all are on scholarships.
All girls are boarders.
School condenses 2 years course into 11 months. To cope, girls must not only be very intelligent, but must be motivated, passionate about Science and maths i.e with the right attitude to fit in.
School is located in the Tema community 6, about 30 minutes drive from Accra.
Tema harbour is the largest seaport in Ghana.
School currently at a temporary site and with ambitious plans to develop its own campus.
Read more press coverage here
For further enquiries about ASA: contact Helen Denyer firstname.lastname@example.org