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Matthew Prempeh, Education minister, Ghana

Matthew Opoku Prempeh is the Education Minister of Ghana, serving since 2017. He has been an MP since 2008, but before his career in politics Prempeh was a medical doctor. He earned a master’s degree from the Netherlands Institute of Health Sciences, and continued his international education with studies at Harvard. It is clear this experience has stayed with Prempeh, as he told The PIE of his support for exchange and TNE in the west African nation.


Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Education minister of Ghana. Photo: Seyiram Kojo Nkansah

There is a Confucius Institute, a Goethe Institute, and Egypt want to help build an Arabic institute in Ghana

The PIE: What part does inbound and outbound internationalisation play in your national policy?

Matthew Prempeh: It actually supports the policy. It says that education, like everything, is about knowing what is going on and preparing yourself for what is going on, or what is going to come on.

“We are talking about making French compulsory because we are surrounded by French-speaking countries”

You have to collaborate with other nations to know what is going on. If you look around the world, and with history, people have migrated because of education and the economy.

People want to improve and the quickest way to improve a lot of people is through education. So people moved away from Japan, China to America to be educated and India and go back to some other countries.

The quickest way of bettering your lot is through education. So whenever you go to look at the first generation of [African students] who went to America, they are the most improved education-wise and everything-wise.

There is proof that education and economy are linked. When you look all over America in the last century, they were the first country to introduce free secondary education. Look at where the American economy is. So there is a sense in making sure in educating your citizens you don’t overlook the sense that, what is happening elsewhere with my neighbours.

The PIE: So you support Ghanaian students if they go to the UK or America?

MP: There are hundreds and thousands of Ghanaian students around the world. Arab countries, in the Middle East, in China, Japan, everywhere, acquiring knowledge. Acquiring knowledge is essential to business interaction. So we support Ghanaian students.

The PIE: How does language education play a part in this?

MP: Just last week, my counterpart from Guinea, we met in Dakar, wanted to do an exchange to bring Guinean students to Ghana to learn English.

I was telling him my hope is that we want to join… La Francophonie. We want to join the linguistics part so we can take Ghanaian students to French speaking countries in the neighbourhood. Not necessarily France, there are a lot of French speaking countries around.

“You never have enough of education. And you never have enough of yours or someone else’s”

Education is a collaborative effort and it’s about knowing what is about to happen around the corner. Interactions such as this, are key to making education a success.

The PIE: Have you had conversations with ministers from other countries about bringing institutions into Ghana?

MP: Lancaster University has a campus [in Accra]. It is another way to make up the gap between those who are yearning for and wanting a higher education and available places.

The many more institutions that come to Ghana, the many more opportunities that are offered to Ghanaians and many more Ghanaian who without that may not have gone into those institutions, have places.

You never have enough of education. And you never have enough of yours or someone else’s. Education is about learning and learning and relearning and continuing learning to be adaptable to the changing circumstances.

So we welcome other universities to set up in Ghana. We are collaborating with other nations to help us out. Even in terms of training, we are desperately in need of other institutions to come to Ghana.

The PIE: You mentioned collaborating with French speaking countries, are there other languages that Ghana is trying to build up proficiency in to help with the globalised economy? Chinese?

MP: I can talk about three more languages, I have already mentioned French.

The Chinese have established an Confucius Institute in one of our universities. We are talking to them to expand it, to help with the teaching and learning of Mandarin.

Egypt wants to help us to establish an Arabic cultural institute to help Ghanaians who get scholarships to study in Arabic countries. They already do the language in Ghana, but also want to teach about the Arabic culture before they even go.

The Germans have a Goethe Institute that is promoting the speaking of German and French. We have German-English schools in Ghana.

Languages is about knowing the culture and getting to know other are people, so it is already important to embed language. That is why in our curricular form, we are talking about making French compulsory because now we are surrounded by French-speaking countries and our seas speak French. Our fish are French.

So we have to learn French. Even just for communication with our neighbours. Good neighbourliness is also another thing that promotes good economies. We have to, that’s why in our new curriculum, language will be one of the four pillars.

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