At a time when quite a number of Africans queue up at the embassies of foreign countries, with the hope of being granted visas into countries with ‘better living conditions’, a rare few like Patrick Awuah are sacrificing that to make a difference by returning home.
Patrick decided to return to his homeland after having lived in America for almost twenty years. He left behind a lucrative job at Microsoft Inc., where he earned millions as a project manager.
His aim: To open an educational institution — Ashesi University in Accra, Ghana — to help with the education of his fellow countrymen.
Ashesi started with 30 students in 2002 in a rented building. Today the university campus is set on a 100 acre land near Aburi, an hour’s drive from Ghana’s capital, Accra, with over 500 students.
The university has an Honour Code, where the students pledge to be honest and to hold each other accountable. The students of Ashesi University take ownership of their ethical posture on campus. “This is a huge break from the norm in most African universities, where corrupt practices run free,”Patrick says. “While the Honour Code may constitute a reach for a perfect society, which is unachievable, we cannot achieve perfection, but if we reach for it, we can achieve excellence.”
Awuah said he thought that “if the current leadership core was educated a certain way, if they were problem solvers, if they had deep compassion for society, we would be in a different place.”
His work with the university seems to be leading towards this precise direction, as the curriculum is known to be innovative. The school has high-tech facilities and puts emphasis on leadership — paving a new path in African education.
If more exceptionally minded and critical thinking individuals like Patrick Awuah would rise to the occasion of transforming Africa, the continent will make great strides in ridding itself off corruption, weak institutions, and most importantly unethical and inefficient leaders.