Abel Ohene Acquaye is a dynamic young man passionate about making an impact in the educational sector in Africa. He is a Global Shaper with the Accra Hub and the Executive Director of AB Review, an educational research company. He is also the brain behind such projects as ‘africaschoolsonline‘ and ‘The Sharks’ quiz competition. We spoke to him to learn more about his life and motivations.
ABA: HOW DID YOUR INTEREST IN EDUCATION BEGIN?
AOA: I had my secondary education at Koforidua Senior High Technical School where I offered Elective Science and furthered on a scholarship to pursue Economics (magna cum laude) for my degree in Russia. On my return, I served under the Deputy Minister of Education as an Executive Assistant where I saw firsthand issues grappling the education sector, thus began my journey to shape the education space in my country.
Education, like statesman Kofi Annan, pointed out is the greatest social leveller. And I have been concerned from my younger years in situating myself in an ecosystem where more African dreams can be realized. When I served in the Ministry of Education, it was a wonder, at that time, how parents will come around to inquire about schools and programs for their wards. In Ghana, as you may be aware, students have to make choices on possible senior high schools of interest and courses before they can be placed. There was little, or better put, less coherent information that’ll guide parents and their wards in this direction.
This led me together with some colleagues to do a countrywide survey of schools and students who attended these schools; giving birth to the publishing of the first Guide to Senior High Schools in Ghana.
We focused more on the Grade A and B schools, about 120 of them and provided information on everything from schools’ performances, courses offered, facilities, student’s opinions, you name it. The response we got was good, and the fact that we were helping students make informed decisions on school and career programs was very fulfilling. After the first run, I knew I will eventually settle to work in the education space.Data, after all, inform decisions and helping people make informed educational decisions will transform our society.
ABA: HOW DID AFRICASCHOOLSONLINE START?
AOA: Africa Schools Online started as the online version of our print guides and is now one of the brands of my firm, AB Review – an edtech, school and career planning firm. To reach more people, the smart decision was to leverage on the internet. We have also included more schools at different levels – high school, colleges, university and even preschools all in our quest to capture a lot more data and bridge the information gap.We plan to include data of schools in other African countries, starting 2018.
The Africa Schools Online platform also provides info on latest educational news, scholarships, events and careers. We are unto something here. Our new website was out doored barely a month and we had ten thousand hits in one week. This validates our notion that more and more people in Africa want to make best-fit educational decisions.
ABA: AWESOME. WHAT ARE YOUR SUCCESSES SO FAR?
AOA: It’s been a tremendous journey. We have successfully organized education events as part of our school and career planning services. The events include:
Junior High School Edufair – a gathering of final year JHS students to help them choose best-fit schools and programs.
I Too Can – young mentorship series that takes young professionals on tour to junior and senior high schools across the country to walk students through their journeys and inform them on latest trends in their respective fields.
Ghana International Higher Education Fair (GIHEF) Regional Tours, – school to school tour with leading local and international universities to brief students on schools and programs offered.
Campus Tours – visitation by prospective tertiary students to university campuses to see firsthand what each school offers.
High School Counsellors’ Workshop – an annual workshop to equip counselors from both public and private schools.
We have also partnered with Africa’s leading scholarship platform, Scholar X to represent them here in Ghana and piloted the Quick Apply Africa online application in partnership with Interpay to allow students apply to up to five institutions with one application. Call it Africa’s common app. We will be launching both platforms here fully this academic year. And Of course our new project, ‘The Sharks’.
ABA: TELL US MORE ABOUT ‘THE SHARKS’.
AOA: “The SHARKS” is our newest project, aTV high school quiz competition developed to promote students’ appreciation of knowledge on diverse core skills: Literacy, Numeracy, Scientific and ICT literacy, Cultural, Social and Civil literacy. Competencies such as Critical thinking, Creativity, Communication and Collaboration will be tested and developed throughout the show.We want to develop all-round students who can think on their feet and are culturally and socially aware of trends happening around them.
It is open to high school students (14 – 18 yrs.) at all levels in all programs and aims to promote teamwork among students and a healthy competitive challenge amongst participants. Sixteen schools will partake in the first edition which will take place at the plush International Students Guest Center in October. The application is still open for interested schools to participate and we are looking for more partners and sponsors to come on board this auspicious event.
ABA: FINAL WORDS FOR OUR READERS
AOA: “.I’m a big proponent of pursuing your passion as a career. Most Young Africans, unfortunately, do not know their passions to start with, most are confused and don’t know where they fit.
My advice will be: Identify what you are good at, discover how you can use your gifts and passion to help others and voila, you’ll be making a living for yourself and creating a better world in the process. Forgive me, but I’m an unrepentant idealist