A robust educational system remains the best way to ensure a country’s future economic growth. In Africa, countries with developing economies have sought out numerous ways to increase the educational success of their students. One of these educational experiments involves business leaders investing their own time and skills in the education system, a paradigm carried out successfully in Ghana by Patrick Awuah, Jr., the founder of Ashesi University, a liberal arts college located in Berekuso, an hour outside the nation’s capital of Accra. With a liberal arts curriculum designed to help students master critical thinking skills and become successful and ethical entrepreneurs, Ashesi University stands at the forefront of educational improvement efforts in Africa.
Initially, Mr. Awuah considered starting a software company in his native Ghana, but found that few students in the region had experience on actual computer equipment. Instead, he decided to affect substantial change by educating Africa’s future leaders to be competent and ethical problem solvers. Despite initial difficulties in convincing local educational authorities to allow a liberal arts curriculum and establishing the funding to start a nonprofit private university, Ashesi opened in 2002 and began providing a new kind of education for students from Ghana and other African nations.
Mr. Awuah and his fellow administrators have succeeded in changing the lives of millions of Africans by educating students who have gone on to a serve as leaders in a variety of fields. Graduates of the university have created new orphanage models, led peacekeeping missions throughout Africa, organized voter registration systems for national elections, and attained executive positions throughout the public and private sectors. Mr. Awuah hopes to expand Ashesi University’s mission over the next decade by admitting more students from outside Ghana, doubling the student body, and adding courses in economics, engineering, law, and political philosophy.