Grace Akpoguma – A Testament to Women's Education


‘Chemistry Class in Progress at Our Lady of Apostles Secondary School Ijebu-Ode’.jpg
‘Chemistry Class in Progress at Our Lady of Apostles Secondary School Ijebu-Ode’, Early 1960s
Album: No. 16 ‘Ijebu Ode’, p.78

“Girl’s education is the single best investment that any society can make.”  ~ Carol Bellamy

Grace Etakibuebu Emoariojake Akpoguma attended of Our Lady of Apostles School in Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria in an era when the education of the girl child was virtually unheard of in Africa. It is thanks to the forward thinking of her father that she was able to progress from primary to secondary school, and thanks to the OLA Sisters that there was a school for her to attend.

The Missionary Sisters of Our lady of Apostles were the first group of women Religious in Nigeria, arriving back in 1877. Almost 80 years later, in 1954, Our Lady of Apostles school in Ijebu-Ode was built and established by the Sisters. The development of education in Nigeria was a slow and challenging process, with very few girls entering secondary education.  The dropout rate for those who did was very high. Grace Akpoguma is one of the success stories.

Grace Akpoguma was born in Ikweghwu-Agbarho on 4th January 1949, and has just celebrated her 70th birthday. Her life is a testament to the importance of education.

She studied at Our Lady of Apostles School from 1961 to 1966, consistently achieving high scores in academics, and taking part in extra mural activities.

Classes in Progress at O. L. A. Secondary School, Ijebu-Ode.jpg
‘Classes in Progress at O. L. A. Secondary School, Ijebu-Ode.’ Early 1960s
Album: No. 16 ‘Ijebu Ode’, p. 80.

After completing secondary school she went on to achieve her Higher School Certificate and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Zoology from the University of Lagos in 1979.

She spent the next 35 years working in the civil service, rising from Fisheries Officer in Bendel State to Deputy General (Fisheries). Her illustrious career saw her rise through the ranks as Director General of Women Affairs and Director General of Parastatals, through various positions including Permanent Secretary in Charge of Housing to become Head of the Civil Service, Delta State, the first women to reach a top position within the civil service in Nigeria.

On her retirement from the civil service in 2002, her excellent track record and achievements saw her move into the national arena serving as Chairman of the Civil Service Commission as well as Minister of Science and Technology and going on to become Minister of State Works, Housing and Development.

This extraordinary, philanthropic woman has lead a life focused on women’s emancipation, empowerment and progress, sharing the passion of the sisters who taught her when she was a teenager.  She is an exemplary role model to the women of Nigeria and an example of all that is possible.

 

Michelle Robertson
OLA Communications Officer
16 January 2018