Alice Azumi Iddi-Gubbels
Executive Director, PAMBE Ghana
Alice was born in the small village of Bongbini in a rural area of northern-eastern Ghana, the first of 17 children in her family. She grew up in a traditional, tightly knit subsistence farming community where relationships and solidarity were paramount. Alice was among the first in her village to go to school, and is one of the fortunate few from her area to receive university education. She has a diploma in Home Science and Nutrition from the University of Ghana, Masters degrees in Social Development Planning and Management from the University of Wales – UK, and in Early Childhood Education from Oklahoma City University, as well as Montessori Teaching Certification in preschool and lower elementary education.
The common theme throughout her professional life has been education and social development in marginalized communities. Alice has 20 years experience in integrated community development. This included community based health care, water supply, functional literacy and local leadership development as well as building strong collaborative relationships among community leaders and with local government services. From 1980-82, Alice led a community-based health care program in Walewale (Northern Ghana). She organized and trained volunteer community health promoters and traditional midwives.
Alice worked as the World Neighbors Health Coordinator for the Integrated Rural Development Program in Bassar-Togo from 1983-86, and as Family Health Advisor West Africa from 1986 to 1987. She worked with Oxfam-GB from 1987-1997, first as Deputy Regional Representative for West Africa, and later as Country Program Director for Burkina Faso.
Alice moved with her family to Canada in late 1997. In 1998, she managed the francophone Africa program, which included West Africa, the African Great Lakes region and Madagascar for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace based in Montreal. She provided management and support to Oxfam Canada’s food security program in Ethiopia from 1999 until she moved with her husband to Oklahoma City in 2000. Since then, Alice’s career path has shifted to early childhood education. Following a long standing dream to go back and contribute to improve the quality of education in her home country, Alice went back to school and got her M.ED as well as Montessori Certification in primary and lower elementary. She taught in Westminster Primary School for several years.
Her fellow teachers, parents of students, friends and supporters came together to help Alice realize her dream and founded a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization called PAMBE Ghana (Partnership for Mother tongue-based Bilingual Education in Ghana). In 2007, Alice resigned her job at Westminster and moved to Ghana to prepare the ground for the La’Angum Learning Center (LLC). She established this model school in a remote rural area in the fall of 2008 with 40 children in pre-kindergarten. LLC begins with and builds on the children’s first language, it is based on the Montessori philosophy and approach to education, it is culturally relevant, and it actively involves parents in their children’s education. Today, in 2014, LLC serves 170 children in grades pre-K through 4, trains educators, involves the community and ultimately models a revolutionary approach to education in an underserved area with limited resources and traditionally low literacy.