Ghana’s Ministry of Education, headed by Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum as the sector minister, is arguably one of the most impactful ministries in the last few years, creating opportunities for Ghanaian children from virtually every home in the country.
Since joining the Ministry as a deputy minister in the first term of the Nana Akufo-Addo-led administration, the education sector has witnessed an enormous transformation impacting lives and giving hope to the younger generation.
The affable Member of Parliament for Bosomtwe in the Ashanti Region close to where he was born on April 9, 1964, in Jachie in the Bosomtwe District. His parents were farmers, and he lived through the humble beginnings in Jachie and Antobam in the Western North Regions of Ghana has been the brain behind the much-touted Free Senior High School and other innovative policies being implemented by the Ministry in recent times.
Yaw Osei Adutwum, who is passionate about quality and holistic education, believes the introduction of the Free Senior High School policy is the way to go as a country to ensure unrestrained access to second cycle education.
With his vast knowledge in the education sector, it is the vision of Dr Adutwum to replicate best practices in private schools and in public schools to achieve the desired results expected by all stakeholders.
He returned to Ghana from the United States of America after 24 years as a renowned educationist to contribute to Ghana’s education system.
Before the 2016 general elections, he had campaigned for free secondary education. Now is currently spearheading the implementation of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education to train most Ghanaian youth in engineering and technology.
The initiative is arguably considered by many as one of the boldest steps taken by a minister in the history of Ghana’s education to build students’ capacities in problem-solving, creativity and critical thinking.
Yaw Osei Adutwum, at a stakeholders’ forum on STEM in Accra, said that Ghana does not need new education policies but a holistic implementation of the already existing education policies.
Instead of coming out with new policies, he said that what is needed is to strictly implement existing policies to turn the nation’s education around to meet the demands of the 21st century.
Today, thousands of Ghanaian children across the country are benefiting from the Free Senior High School Policy, which is backed by the 1992 constitution but has been shelved over the years due to a lack of political will.
The implementation of the policy has not only created opportunities for thousands of Junior High School leavers who hitherto could not have progressed to Senior High School but also has seen an increase in educational infrastructure.
Yaw Osei Adutwum obtained a bachelor’s degree in Land Economy (Business Administration with a major in Real Estate) from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology before he migrated to the US.
He has a master’s degree in Education Management from the University of La Verne and holds a PhD (Educational Policy and Administration), University of South California, California, 2009 and is the founder and former CEO of New Designs Educational Group, Los Angeles, California with a combined enrolment of about 1,200 students in grades 6-12 in Los Angeles.
He also owns Lake View Group of Companies, including Lake View Schools (Crèche to SHS) and a micro-finance company.
Before founding the first New Designs Charter School, he worked as a mathematics and Information Technology teacher at Manual Arts High School for ten years.
At Manual Arts High School, he founded the International Studies Academy, which served as a small learning community where many students thrived socially and academically.
In addition, he served as a Lead Math Teacher in the USC/Manual Arts Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI).
His experience in the NAI program confirmed his belief that high standards in a well-structured learning environment could lead to higher levels of student achievement.
Most of the students he taught in the NAI program proceeded to higher education in institutions like UCLA, USC, Yale, UC Berkeley, Stanford, and Cornell University.
At the national level, he served for two years as a member of a task force established by the National Research Center for Career and Technical to develop a national model for career and technical education at the high school and college levels.
The New Designs coordinated the project for the Learning centre based at the University of Oregon. It was headed by George Copa, a professor of education and a career and technical education expert.
In December 2021, the Technical Universities Teachers Association of Ghana (TUTAG) honoured Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum with a citation describing him as “a Minister of difference”.
It followed TUTAG’s realization at its last Congress that Dr Adutwum is the kind of Minister Ghana needs for development.
TUTAG National President, Dr Michael Brigandi Akurugu, sees Dr Adutwum as one Minister who walks his talk. “As a result of the swift intervention of the Education Minister, the condition of service for members of TUTAG is almost ready and the scheme of service revised to the admiration of all teachers”, the president added.
According to Dr Akrugu, accreditation for programmes is no longer an issue because the Accreditation Board sits almost every month instead of quarterly to address accreditation delays, thanks to Dr Adutwum.
The TUTAG President also said the research allowance arrears since 2019 has been paid.
Further, Technical Universities are allowed to run postgraduate programmes based on their capacities.
Nana Agyei Panin, the chief of Deduako near Kuntenase in the Bosomtwe District, once commended Hon. Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum for his contributions to the development of the district.
The chief described the Minister as a visionary leader whose foresight shapes Ghana’s education while building a solid human capital to drive the country’s socio-economic development.
He said Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum is the man Nana Akufo-Addo, and Ghana needs to improve the educational system and turn round the prospects of education in Ghana.
Described by many as a game-changer for his strategic leadership and vision, the education minister has undoubtedly been responsible for transforming all sectors of education in Ghana.