Resolute and resourceful, Ann Cotton has transformed the lives of countless girls and young women in Africa. The British education pioneer has just received the
2014 World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) prize in Doha in recognition of her work in giving learning opportunities to females in sub-saharan Africa, where it is estimated some 24 million girls do not get any schooling. Cotton is the founder of the Campaign for Female Education or Camfed
In 1991 Ann went on a research trip to Zimbabwe to investigate why so few girls were going to school. What she found was that families, faced with a choice, had favoured boys getting an education as it was felt they had a better chance of getting a paid job after leaving school.
“In the early stages in the community of Mola I realized that girls had not been asked what they wanted to do in the future, she says. “So when I began to ask them what their aspirations were I met really quite blank faces and silence. I had to start at a different point and I had to learn with them.”
In this edition of Learning World presenter Maha Barada meets this inspirational figure and some of those who have benefited from her determination to improve their lives.
We trace her journey from Cambridge to remote corners of rural Africa and find out what why WISE selected her as the winner of this year’s prize.
Watch the video.