Kofi Annan: a champion for education

Kofi Annan: a champion for education

Published on 22 August 2018

“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.” - Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and global statesman, had a tremendous impact on the world stage and was a relentless champion for the cause of education. The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who passed away last week, used his global influence to put education at the forefront of global policy and civil society.

During his tenure at the helm of the UN, Mr Annan was the architect of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – eight international development targets focused on key issues – which included a global mandate to make primary education accessible to all.

Kofi Annan

From 2008-2018, he served as Chancellor of the University of Ghana and remained committed to the cause of education, both locally and internationally. This was a period of change and innovation at the university, with notable growth in agricultural research and ICT development, reflecting his passion for Africa to be self-sustaining.

In 2016, he called upon a room full of university leaders and government representatives at the ACU Conference of University Leaders 'to ensure that higher education helps foster a better understanding of democracy, its benefits and responsibilities’.

His keynote address went on to deliver a consistent message. 'Education is the premise of progress in every society,' he said. 'It is the basis for sustainable economic growth and a fundamental building block for healthy, democratic societies.'

These words were guided by the principles he lived by and the depth of his experience.

Through the Kofi Annan Foundation, the Africa Progress Panel and a number of other global think tanks, he worked to give young people around the world a platform and a voice to share ideas and contribute to the leadership agenda.

He also established several educational institutions in his home country, including the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Centre, and the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, both of which serve regional and international students.

Kofi Annan was born in Ghana in 1938 and studied at the highly acclaimed Mfantsipim High School. He won a Ford Foundation scholarship to study at Macalester College in the USA, and later studied for a Master’s degree at MIT. Kofi Annan passed away on 18 August 2018, aged 80. The ACU is deeply saddened by his passing and our condolences go out to his loved ones at this time.