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Africa Education Medal 2023: Meet the top 10 finalists

The Africa Education Medal is an award aimed at honouring individuals who have demonstrated exceptional impact, leadership and advocacy in the field of education in Africa.
Source: T4 Education
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Education is critical to Africa’s future. It empowers whole communities and helps reduce poverty and inequality. It also produces the scientists and leaders of today and tomorrow who will tackle Africa’s greatest challenges. 

Despite the gains made in recent decades, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted global education in unprecedented ways. To protect and build on these gains, it is crucial that everyone works together. For this reason, the spirit of the Africa Education Medal is to bring together leaders from diverse backgrounds, including teachers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), politicians, tech entrepreneurs, and individuals from both the public and private sectors, to have them join forces to create a future where every child in Africa has access to quality education.

The Africa Education Medal is an award aimed at honouring individuals who have demonstrated exceptional impact, leadership and advocacy in the field of education in Africa. The award celebrates their tireless efforts and shines a light on the stories of change that can inspire others to take action.

In 2022, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, was named the winner of the inaugural Africa Education Medal, launched by T4 Education and HP in collaboration with Intel and Microsoft.

The jury for the 2023 edition includes: Brian K Schreuder, Specialist Advisor, Western Cape Education Department, South Africa; Mayank Dhingra, Senior Education Business Leader, Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa (SEMA), HP; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Founder & Leader, Umlambo Foundation; Vikas Pota, Founder & CEO, T4 Education; Vongai Nyahunzvi, Head of Africa & Chief Network Officer, Teach For All; Folawe Omikunle, Chief Executive Officer, Teach For Nigeria.

Meet the top 10 finalists for the Africa Education Medal 2023

Snehar Shah, CEO of Moringa School, Kenya

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Sneha Shah is CEO of Moringa School in Kenya, a learning accelerator committed to closing the skills gap in Africa’s job markets by delivering transformative tech-based learning in Software Engineering, Data Science, Cybersecurity, and Product Design to jobseekers, before connecting them with local and international employers in need of talent. Shah is now scaling the EdTech company across Africa. 

Mary Metcalfe, Former policymaker & CEO of Programme to Improve Learning Outcomes (PILO), South Africa

Mary Metcalfe headshot

Mary Metcalfe is a South African educationist, activist, and Executive Director of the Programme to Improve Learning Outcomes (PILO), an NGO whose work impacts 3 million learners. Metcalfe is a highly respected leader and a passionate advocate for equal education who has been instrumental in developing South African education policy.

Simi Nwogugu, CEO, JA Africa, Nigeria

Simi Nwogugu Headshot 2 Manasseh Okutu

Simi Nwogugu is CEO of JA Africa, part of the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated JA Worldwide, one of the world’s largest youth-serving NGOs that prepares young people for the future of work. She was first introduced to JA while working at Goldman Sachs in New York City. Impressed by the organisation, she quit her lucrative job at age 24 to bring JA to Nigeria, where it now reaches more than 100,000 young people annually, before going on to head up JA’s operations across the continent. 

Laura Kakon, Chief Growth & Strategy Officer of Honoris United Universities, Morocco

Laura Kakon

Laura Kakon, from Morocco, is the Chief Growth and Strategy Officer of Honoris United Universities, the first and largest pan-African private higher education network committed to transforming lives through relevant education for lifetime success.

Martha Muhwezi, Executive Director of FAWE, Uganda

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Martha Muhwezi from Uganda is 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.

Rogers Patrick Kamugisha, Country Director, Educate!, Rwanda

RogersPatrickKamugisha Headshot Rogers Patrick Kamugisha

Rogers Patrick Kamugisha is the Country Director of Educate! in Rwanda, the largest youth skills provider in East Africa. Educate! tackles youth unemployment by partnering with schools and governments to equip young people in Africa with the skills to attain further education, overcome gender inequities, start businesses, get jobs, and drive development in their communities. 

Sara Ruto, Former Chief Administrative Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Kenya & former CEO of the PAL Network, Kenya

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Sara Ruto is the former Chief Administrative Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Kenya, and former CEO of the PAL Network – a South-South network of organisations in Africa, South Asia and Central America undertaking large-scale, citizen-led assessments and actions to improve foundational literacy and numeracy. Dr Ruto’s impact has been felt across her three decades in academia, civil society and government. Her work on education reform in Kenya saw her awarded the ‘Elder of the Burning Spear’ (EBS) Presidential Award in 2019.

Jean-Claude Nkulikiyimfura, Executive Director at Agahozo Shalom Youth Village, Rwanda

Jean Claude Nkulikiyimfura Headshot Lucile Scott

Jean-Claude Nkulikiyimfura is Executive Director of Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) in Rwanda, an organisation that empowers orphaned and vulnerable youth to build lives of dignity and contribute to a better world. Nkulikiyimfura was born a refugee in Burundi. His parents were both orphaned and fled Rwanda in 1961, but taught their children that they would one day return to Rwanda and restore justice and dignity for all. Nkulikiyimfura did exactly that after the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi and began working to fulfil this promise. 

Grace Matlhape, CEO of SmartStart, South Africa

Grace Matlhape Headshott

Grace Matlhape is CEO of SmartStart in South Africa, a social franchise that seeks to ensure every young child has access to a quality early learning programme in preparation for the opportunities ahead. Matlhape built SmartStart from the ground up into South Africa’s largest network of home-based early learning practitioners with more than 9,000 practitioners and 60,000 children. 

Mary Ashun, Principal of Ghana International School, Ghana


Mary Ashun is Principal of Ghana International School (GIS), an independent not-for-profit school that provides an internationally diverse experience which instils mutual understanding, promotes holistic development, and teaches life skills to produce responsible global citizens.

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