Ghana is in the middle of the most far reaching educational reforms in a generation. The Free Senior High School Education Policy by the current administration gets the most mentions but perhaps just as important to the future of the country and its young people is the revolution taking place in the area of curriculum and assessment standards. Leading these reforms is a young man from Kwesimintsim in the Western Region, Dr. Prince Hamid Armah.
Dr. Armah’s commitment to these reforms and his tireless advocacy for a structural change in the nature of our education system have made him a known face among all who have even the slightest interest in educational matters. Along with his eloquent pieces arguing his case and his regular presence in the mainstream media, he has also built a following on social media, where he pursues a more interactive approach to his public policy advocacy.
But there is another angle to him. As a dedicated son of Kwesimintsim, his exploits on the national and international stages have caught the attention of the local youth and party grandees who have come to see in him the precise qualities they require for their representative in Ghana’s legislature. Should they have their way, Dr. Armah might become an even more significant presence on the national stage. Which is why it would be best to seek an answer to the burning question, who exactly is Dr. Prince Hamid Armah?
Early life and education
Dr. Armah was born in Kwesimintsim Zongo to a Muslim father and Christian mother. This religious and cultural diversity in the circumstances of his birth perhaps explains the tolerance for different shades of opinion that have come to define his public and private interactions. From a very early age, he was determined to defy the low expectations that many attach to those from similarly humble births and saw education as the surest ticket to the dreams that he had. He began his education at Kwesimintsim, including at Nyame Bekyere Preparatory (now Excellence Pathway Academy), Esawah Preparatory School and Top Royal Junior Secondary School. After JSS, there was something of a family debate about young Prince’s future. His dad thought it would be best if he became a mechanic so he could help in his transport business, while his mother insisted that he should continue along the path of formal education. Luckily, his mother prevailed and he was soon on his way to St. John’s Secondary School, Sekondi to read Science.
Between stints as a teacher, Dr. Armah studied at the University of Education, Winneba obtaining both his Bachelors and Master’s Degrees in Mathematics Education, after which he returned to the classroom. After nearly a decade classroom practitioner, he applied for and won a scholarship from the Ghana Education Trust Fund to study at the famous University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, where he earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Mathematics with specialization in Curriculum, Pedagogy and Education Policy. It was a period of outstanding achievement as he not only won the Principal’s Excellence Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions in research, impact and engagement, but finished his programme well within the scheduled period, a rare feat at that level. His talents were noticed by the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom, which supported him to obtain certificates in Quantitative Methods from the Doctoral Training Centers of the University of Edinburgh, the University of Manchester and the University of Nottingham all in the United Kingdom. In addition to these the highly qualified Dr. Armah hold both GTCS (Math) and QTS (UK), and is now a globally recognized expert in education research, policy development, implementation and evaluation.
For the good of Ghana
On completion of his studies, another choice faced the young man. He could remain in the United Kingdom with his family, taking up from among several offers, a place at the world famous Oxford University, or he could return to Ghana, land of his birth and much less certain opportunities. Patriotism won out and he returned to his country, optimistic that his talents and abilities could be put to best use in a country that sorely needed its best people to move it forward.
Before he even returned to Ghana, he had established one of Ghana’s most influential education policy and research think tanks, the Institute for Education Studies (IFEST). He subsequently founded the Greenfield Education Group (GEG), a development consultancy firm focused specifically on guiding clients to solve complex education sector challenges. He also took up an appointment as a part-time lecturer for two years before joining the University of Education, Winneba, as a full time lecturer, returning to nourish the very founts that years earlier, he himself had also drunk from.
His immense policy expertise was also placed at the disposal of the nation as he was drafted to assist in various public policy initiatives including the development of Ghana’s Education Strategic Plan (ESP) 2018-2030 and, associated Medium-Term Development Plan 2018-2021. With the same enthusiasm and insight, he worked on an Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Technical Team to write and implement the curriculum for the ITE reforms of the Government of Ghana under the T-TEL Project. He again produced an analysis of the education sector that has helped DFID to develop a Partnership Beyond Aid (PBA) Programme, in line with Government’s vision of “Ghana Beyond Aid”. The PBA, when implemented, will help the country to form and implement strategies that leapfrog it to self-reliance and improve economic and social sector management and quality service delivery, financing and accountability, capacity building, among others.
He has also served as a consultant to many national and international institutions including the Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service, STS-International/FHI360, Cambridge Education, The World Bank, United Nations Education Commission, United States Agency for International Development, the UK’s Department For International Development (DfID), Oxford Policy Management (UK), Open University (UK), PricewaterhouseCoopers (Ghana) Limited, among others.
All these assignments have been approached with an energy inspired by the welfare of the Ghanaian child, energized by the vision to give them the best education to face the challenges of tomorrow. As he never tires of saying, education can transform lives and fortunes of both individuals and entire communities. His abiding passion is to see as many people as possible enjoy the advantages that education has brought him. For him then, there must be expansion in access to education and there must also needs be drastic improvements to the content and quality of learning experiences for the benefit of the individual and the entire nation.
His tireless efforts caught the eye of the inspirational Honourable Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, who invited him to join the crack team he has assembled at the education department. On the Minister’s recommendation, Dr Armah was appointed by the President, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo as the Executive Secretary of National Council for Curriculum and Assessment with the explicit mandate to lead to a successful end, the government’s curriculum and assessment reform agenda. Under his leadership, NaCCA is well on its way to becoming the standard by which national curriculum and assessment centres in the sub-region are judged. This onerous task, one that has been undertaking with great energy and vigour, might seem the culmination of the young patriot’s national service, but another vista seems set to open for him to serve his nation and his community.
Throughout his young life, Dr. Prince Hamid Armah has consistently sought opportunities to serve his community. He previously served as the Assembly Member of the Secondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly representing the Adiembra Electoral Area, during his brief stay in the Sekondi Constituency. At the time, he was the youngest to ever be elected by that community and yet, dramatically reformed community level participation in local governance. Young people have since his tenure dominated assembly elections in the community. Through his ability to drive progressive solutions, he frequently collated views and proposals on matters affecting the local community and presented them to the Assembly which led to the construction of a 6-unit classroom block and computer lab for the local community. During his tenure as an Assembly Member, he served on the Board of Directors of all the schools in the local community where he collaborated with head teachers to develop and implement strategic directions in key areas, culminating in improved national assessment results over the period.
He was also active in party politics and served the New Patriotic Party in various capacities, demonstrating his belief in and commitment to the party’s ideal of development for all people in an atmosphere of freedom and liberty. As far back as 1999, he was one of the NPP’s Secondary Schools Coordinators in Sekondi-Takoradi. He also served as the TESCON Secretary from 2004 to 2005 and was a polling agent for the party in the 2004 and 2008 general elections. He was a member of the NPP Regional Communications Team between 2006 and 2010 as well as Constituency Youth Secretary during that same period. In 2008, he was the Secretary of the Communications Committee for Honourable Papa Owusu-Ankomah’s general election campaign before contesting for the position of Western Regional Youth Organiser in 2009.
As a proud native, Dr. Armah has a burning desire to assist in the transformation of Kwesimintsim. Over the years, he has helped in various ways to contribute towards the Kwesimintsim Project- through education, health, security, economic transformation, social and community cohesion.
On the security front, Dr. Armah has donated some motorbikes to the Kwesimintsim Police Command to help them in their efforts to combat crime and protect both lives and properties. In the area of education, he has donated office supplies and stationery to the Effia-Kwesimintsim Municipal Education Directorate and more than twenty-three thousand supplementary instructional resources to all first and second cycle institutions in the municipality. He also provides scholarships to needy but brilliant students to further their education.
In the broader pursuit of his economic transformation and empowerment agenda, he has facilitated the disbursement of MASLOC loans to traders to help address the financing challenges or gaps confronting their businesses. With regards to health, he has provided financial assistance to defray the medical bills of many constituents. And pertaining to infrastructural development, he has donated a sum of GHC 20,000 and two hundred bags in support of the construction of the Anaji Community Center. In line with bridging gaps and enhancing unity among community members, Dr. Armah continually provides both logistical and financial support towards activities such as the celebrations of the Kundum Festivals in Whindo, Assakae, Kwesimintsim Proper all within the Kwesimintsim Constituency.
It is no wonder then many people in the constituency – young and old, men and women, party members and non-party members – have come to see him as the one they can trust to lead and represent the constituency in the next parliament which will be sworn in on 7th January, 2021. Several individuals and groups have gone public with their desire to see him as the next Member of Parliament for Kwesimintsim. So far, there has been no official reaction from the man himself, but what is clear from his track record is that should he choose to accept the offer, Kwesimintsim will have a competent, capable and committed representative who will place their interests ahead of everything else from day one. As is his motto, he will be doing this only for God, for Country and for Kwesimintsim.
The writer is a teacher and native of Kwesimintsim. Among his former students was Dr Prince Hamid Armah, the Executive Secretary of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the subject of this article.
By Alfred Yeboah