Uganda’s Martha Muhwezi, Executive Director of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE Africa), has been named as a Top 10 finalist for the Africa Education Medal 2023.
Muhwezi is the Executive Director of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), a pan-African NGO working in 33 countries to empower girls and women through gender-responsive education.
Founded last year by T4 Education and HP in collaboration with Microsoft, the Africa Education Medal is Africa’s most prestigious education accolade.
The Africa Education Medal was established to recognise the tireless work of those who are transforming education across the continent – to celebrate the stories of those who have lit the spark of change so others will be inspired to take up the torch.
The President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation, Dr. Reeta Roy said the nomination was well deserved.
“I’ve seen your leadership in action. And I’ve seen the impact of our work in Uganda. And I know that this recognition will confer even greater influence, and will benefit even more lives of young people as we move forward.”
The award is given to an outstanding individual who has demonstrated impact, leadership, and advocacy in the field of education.
Her passion for education began 18 years ago, in a remote village in the eastern part of Uganda where many girls were not able to attend school and others dropped out due to early marriage and pregnancy.
She joined FAWE in 2005 as a Technical Advisor, before becoming Executive Director of FAWE Uganda and then going on to head up the organisation across the whole continent.
Under Muhwezi’s leadership, FAWE designed the Higher Education Access Programme (HEAP), a bridging course that has provided young women as well as men an additional pathway into higher education in Uganda.
Since its launch, enrolment in higher education in Uganda increased from 250,000 in 2019 to 270,000 students in 2022. The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) in Uganda has recognised HEAP as a Fourth Pathway to university in Uganda.
In Uganda, she also spearheaded a range of initiatives including Mother Tongue Resource Books, Gender Responsive Pedagogy manuals and the Competence Profile for primary school teachers. FAWE Uganda has influenced the formulation of a gender in education policy in the country.
FAWE runs a range of initiatives including a comprehensive scholarship programme that helps prepare young women to transition to university or the world of work and a number of its alumni have gone on to prominent positions in governments across Africa.
Over 6,500 girls and boys have benefited from FAWE’s Centres of Excellence, which were established in 1999 and have led to increased enrolment, performance, retention and completion rates, particularly for girls.
A further 80,000 children have further benefited from FAWE’s Tuseme model since 1996, which has led to an improvement in girls’ self-esteem and in their leadership, social and life skills, teachers’ positive attitudinal change towards girls and a significant reduction in sexual harassment.
Meanwhile, over 6,600 teachers have benefited from FAWE’s training model, while 15,000 students have benefited from FAWE’s STEM programme which has boosted girls’ participation in STEM subjects.
As FAWE Africa Executive Director, Muhwezi led the organisation to develop the Gender Equality Strategy for the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (GES4CESA), which calls for investment in equal education in Africa.
She also gained FAWE the $1 million 2017 Al-Sumait Prize in the field of Education.
“HP has a bold goal to accelerate digital equity for 150 million people globally by 2030. Only by joining forces and aligning with NGOs, government, educators and businesses can we truly improve the education environment. The Africa Education Medal brings together all those who are changing the face of African education, whose vital work deserves to be celebrated,” saidHP Senior Education Business Leader, Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa, Mayank Dhingra,
Vikas Pota, Founder and CEO of T4 Education, said Africa’s teachers, school leaders, and its leaders of governments, NGOs and businesses, all play a crucial part in unlocking the continent’s potential through quality education.
“African education stands at a crossroads in the wake of the pandemic, but if leaders from across the continent in every field can work together then they can build the lasting change needed” said Pota.
The Top 10 finalists for the Africa Education Medal are:
- Mary Ashun, Principal of Ghana International School, Ghana
- Laura Kakon, Chief Growth & Strategy Officer of Honoris United Universities, Morocco
- Rogers Kamugisha, Country Director of Educate!, Rwanda
- Grace Matlhape, CEO of SmartStart, South Africa
- Mary Metcalfe, former policymaker and CEO of Programme to Improve Learning Outcomes (PILO), South Africa
- Martha Muhwezi, Executive Director of FAWE Africa
- Jean-Claude Nkulikiyimfura, Executive Director of Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, Rwanda
- Simi Nwogugu, CEO of JA Africa, Nigeria
- Sara Ruto, Former Chief Administrative Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Education and former CEO of PAL Network, Kenya
- Snehar Shah, CEO of Moringa School, Kenya
Nominations for the Africa Education Medal opened in February 2023 for individuals working to improve pre-kindergarten, K-12, vocational and university education who are either educators, school administrators, civil society leaders, public servants, government officials, political leaders, technologists, or innovators.
The winner of the Africa Education Medal will be announced in July. Finalists will be assessed by a Jury comprising prominent individuals based on rigorous criteria.