Alice Azumi Iddi-Gubbels
PAMBE Ghana Founder & Executive Director
“I am passionate about quality basic education for children that starts with and builds on the local language and culture in poor, rural and underserved areas. I have established a non-profit organization, PAMBE Ghana that promotes mother tongue-based bilingual education, using a child-centered, experiential approach in northern Ghana. As PAMBE Ghana progresses in developing this innovative method in different communities where there are no schools, my intention is to support existing public schools interested in adapting and applying this approach.” – Alice Azumi Iddi-Gubbels
PAMBE Ghana was established in 2007, founded by Alice Azumi Iddi-Gubbels and the strong support of many fellow teachers and parents of her students in Oklahoma City, where she served as a teacher for a number of years. Alice has dual nationality, Canadian and Ghanaian. In 2000, she moved to Oklahoma City, following her Canadian husband who had obtained a job there. Following her passion, she went back to university to complete a Masters degree in Early Childhood education (her second Masters). Thereafter, she began teaching at a local school. Alice’s interest in promoting bi-lingual education, starting with mother tongue education, was sparked by her studies at university, but was rooted in her own primary school experience.
Alice was born and grew up in the rural village of Bongbini, in the East Mamprusi district of northern Ghana. When she started school, the use of the local language (Mampruli) was prohibited. Alice and her fellow pupils were instructed entirely in English, a completely foreign language. Pupils were punished if they used their own language in class. This made school a misery for most of the young students, resulting in high dropout numbers. This was especially the case for girls, who were needed at home to help with labor necessary to sustain livelihoods. For Alice, she continued school only because of her father’s insistence. She initially disliked school so much that she skipped classes for two months in the fourth grade, preferring to help her aunts with their domestic chores. When Alice’s father learned of her truancy, he admonished her and sent her back to school. Of over 100 children that started going to school in her village, Alice was one of three who completed high school and continued to university.
Today, she is one of the very few in her native district in Ghana with a university education. Based on what she had learned in North America, Alice became convinced that she had a special role to play in Ghana. She developed a vision and a strategy for reforming and improving primary education in her native district. Encouraged by her former university professors, as well as the parents of her students and fellow teachers, family and friends in Canada and the US, Alice created the Partnership for Mother Tongue-based Bilingual Education (PAMBE Ghana). She resigned her teaching job, and moved back to the small village in Ghana, where she was born.