Breaking Barriers: Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang's journey from academia to politics

Stories and facts

Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang FGA, formerly known as Jane Naana Sam, is a prominent Ghanaian academic and politician with a remarkable career spanning both sectors. Born on November 22, 1951, in Cape Coast, Ghana, she has made significant contributions to education, literature, and politics in her homeland.

Opoku-Agyemang's academic journey began with her secondary education at prestigious institutions such as Anglican Girls' Secondary School in Koforidua, Aburi Presby Girls' School, and Wesley Girls High School in Cape Coast, where she completed her studies in 1971. She furthered her education at the University of Cape Coast, obtaining a Bachelor of Education (Hons) degree in English and French in 1977. Her pursuit of knowledge led her to acquire a Diploma in Advanced Studies in French from the University of Dakar and master's and doctoral degrees from York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1980 and 1986, respectively.

In the field of academia, Opoku-Agyemang's career flourished at the University of Cape Coast, where she began teaching in 1986. Throughout her tenure, she held various esteemed positions, including Head of the Department of English, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and Warden of Adehye Hall, among others. Her dedication and expertise culminated in her appointment as the university's Vice-Chancellor from 2008 to 2012, making her the first female to hold such a position at a state university in Ghana. Additionally, she served as the Academic Director of the School for International Training in the History and Cultures of the African Diaspora and represented Ghana on the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Opoku-Agyemang's contributions to literature extend beyond academia, as she is also a published author focusing on various aspects of Ghanaian and African literature, oral traditions, and communication skills. Her scholarly endeavors have earned her recognition on both local and international platforms, including presentations at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

Transitioning into the political arena, Opoku-Agyemang assumed the role of Minister for Education from February 2013 to January 2017, following her appointment by President John Mahama after the National Democratic Congress won the 2012 Ghanaian general election. During her tenure, she prioritized initiatives aimed at empowering girls' education and promoting inclusivity in Ghana's educational system, leading to the inception of the Inclusive Education Policy 2015.

In the realm of politics, Opoku-Agyemang made history when she was selected as the vice-presidential running mate for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the December 2020 Ghanaian presidential election. Her nomination marked a significant milestone as the first female running mate of a major political party in Ghana. Despite facing criticisms and insults from opposing parties, she conducted a campaign focused on promoting gender equality, youth-centered policies, and sustainable development.

Beyond her professional achievements, Opoku-Agyemang is a devoted Christian who worships as a Methodist and a proud mother of three children. Her outstanding contributions to education and literature have been recognized through numerous awards and accolades, including honorary degrees from esteemed institutions and awards for her global leadership and academic distinction.

Opoku-Agyemang's legacy extends beyond her accomplishments, as she continues to inspire and empower women across Ghana and Africa, earning her a place among the most influential and reputable figures on the continent. Her unwavering dedication to education, literature, and public service solidifies her position as a role model and trailblazer in Ghanaian society.



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