October 15, 2022 – During African Development University’s (ADU) inaugural commencement ceremony, in addition to celebrating the institution’s impact, the Guest of Honour, the President of the Republic of Niger, conferred a National Honour to Ashesi’s University founder, Dr. Patrick Awuah, in recognition of his service to Niger and ADU. 

Since 2018, Ashesi has worked closely with ADU on its journey toward delivering high-impact and contextual educational programs to its students. This partnership which stemmed from The Education Collaborative’s mentorship program made ADU one of the program’s early beneficiaries. The mentorship program connects new or growing institutions with more seasoned ones to share their blueprint for success and guide the younger institution’s growth. 

“One of the key things that came as a result of the partnership with Ashesi was helping us to ground our curriculum in African norms while incorporating best global practices,” shared Kader Keneye, President of ADU. “Instead of merely duplicating models, the partnership provided us with the expertise and assistance to help us think about our context, our challenges, and issues, and then co-design concrete solutions in that regard. “

Having grown up in Niger and had the opportunity to receive tertiary education both in Niger and abroad, Kaneye was among less than 1% of his peers with a university education. After his Masters, he learned about Ashesi University and its founder, and started exploring ways he could help bring institutions like Ashesi to Niger. 

“Francophone Africa and the Sahel region, in particular, is lagging in quality educational institutions,” he shared. “By working with The Education Collaborative and Ashesi, we could start to bring up other institutions to a level where they can deliver quality education that is right for our context.” 

As part of the mentorship program, The Education Collaborative arranged student, faculty, and staff exchange and coaching programs. The Education Collaborative also provided ADU support in building a strategic roadmap, providing platforms for idea exchange. 

Over the years, The Education Collaborative has scaled the mentorship program, welcoming institutions in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Rwanda and more, providing more institutions with the opportunity to explore partnerships and support. 

Today, ADU, one of nine universities in Niger, is recognized as one of the most transformative in the nation. The university has nearly 300 students, with 70% receiving scholarships and two-thirds of all students being women. In 2020, it became the first in the Sahel to join the Mastercard Foundation’s Scholars Programme network – a group of high-impact universities worldwide working with the Foundation to prepare young people to lead meaningful careers and transform the most underserved communities. The university also launched an Innovation Lab that has helped students roll out startups into full-fledged companies that are helping provide jobs and income to the Nigerian economy. At the Commencement ceremony, 168 students graduated from its first four cohorts.  

“We don’t have to wait to grow like Ashesi before we start working with other universities,” shared Kader. “We want to act as a bridge for Ashesi between the anglophone and francophone, helping improve the quality of education in Africa by supporting others the way Ashesi supported us. Typically, institutions that offer assistance want to drive the agenda and influence your curriculum and organization. One of the things I appreciate about The Education Collaborative is that they approached us as partners and not just as an institution looking to receive help. There’s respect and consideration in the approach.”