In this interview, meet Peter Kwasi Kodjie, Secretary General of the All-Africa Students Union (AASU), the largest student movement in Africa, a wholly student-run and student-led union.
Could you please tell us more about you, Peter?
I am Peter Kwasi Kodjie and I have over 10 years of experience of working with and for students. My student activism journey commenced from senior high school days, when I became the General Secretary of the Ghana Union of Professional Students, and later President of the National Union of Ghana Students. Currently I am serving as the Secretary General of the All-Africa Students Union. I have expertise in defending students’ and children’s rights, quality assurance in higher education institutions, regional integration, international relations and diplomacy, and youth in governance and leadership. I am also an advocate for student-centred learning and women’s rights.
Started in 1972, AASU is the largest student movement in Africa. How many students does it involve, and what is AASU’s mission?
Today, AASU has 75 member unions across the African continent, representing over 170 million students in Africa and the diaspora. The Union is wholly student-run and student-led. It is autonomous, representative, and operates according to democratic principles. AASU’s mission is to create among the broad masses of African people a sense of awareness of the challenges confronting the continent and the need for students, as an integral part of their society, to be fully involved in all endeavours aimed at resolving them. The Union achieves its mission through the 7 working groups established based on the 7 priorities of the Union:
- Education and Students Rights
- Migration and Mobility
- Environment and Climate Action
- Gender Advocacy
- Pan Africanism and African Culture
- Democracy and Good Governance
- Capacity Building
With presence in 54 countries in Africa, how do you create bridges between students from different countries and learn from each other?
The African Students and Youth Summit (ASYS) provides the largest platform to connect students and young people from across the continent. The ASYS is AASU’s flagship annual event that provides an opportunity to discuss pertinent issues which are hinged on the Union’s priority areas. The last in-person ASYS was held in Morocco in 2019. Since 2020, the ASYS has been held virtually, given the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic on public gatherings. However, in 2023, the 12th edition of the ASYS will be held in-person.
It is important to note that the All-Africa Students Union creates avenues to facilitate knowledge sharing among member unions through its situation room meetings (during emergencies) and intermittent member union meetings throughout the year. Similarly, the Union creates opportunities for member unions to learn from each other by co-creating approaches to achieving project objectives. An example of such projects is the recent Digital Inclusion Campaign and the Justice For Every Child Campaign in partnership with the 100 Million Campaign.
What are the main objectives of AASU for 2030?
In 2022, AASU started actions to track progress made towards the achievement of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 and the Continental Education Strategy for Africa. In the coming years, the union is channelling its efforts to initiate and support activities aimed at monitoring and facilitating the attainment of key indicators outlined in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (2030 finish line) and the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (2025 finish line).
Some key projects the Union is currently starting include the SDG 4 Monitoring Project, the AASU Quality Assurance Ambassadors Project, the AASU Eco Student Ambassadors Project, the Education Enrolment Programme, Digital Inclusion Campaign, the development of the African Students Charter, and the Grab-A-Skill Project. Interested stakeholders can learn about these projects during the The Students’ Panel at the LearningPlanet Festival.
What have you planned for the LearningPlanet Festival?
Yes, AASU is excited to be a part of the 2023 LearningPlanet Festival. This is the first time we will be participating, and we are happy to learn about the different organisations who will be there. We have prepared a student-led event, which will seek to explore the role of students and democratically structured student unions in achieving key milestones in regards to inclusive education and climate actions. The Student Agency has played a key role in the emancipation of many African countries and against oppressive regimes.
We are of the firm belief that climate justice, and access to equitable quality education will have a major impact on our abilities to achieve all other developmental goals and aspirations. The session will bring together student leaders from across the world. However, the session will shed more light on the African student movement and how it has contributed, and is contributing, to climate justice as well as education inclusivity and quality. The session will include speakers from the Global Student Forum, Commonwealth Students Association, African National Student Unions, and the European Students Union. The session is scheduled for 25 January 2023 from 11:00 to 13:00 UTC.
Who should join, and why?
We invite policy makers, student leaders, CSOs in the education and climate space to join the event. The event will provide a unique opportunity for different organisations to engage with students and student unions from all over the world. The session will also provide useful information about what student unions are doing, and stakeholders will have the opportunity to connect with student unions with mutual aspirations and projects.The session will also provide a platform to discuss student agency in climate justice and quality education for all.
Are you optimistic about the future, and why?
I am very optimistic about the future. The current wave of students and youth activists working together to support development actions, holding political leaders accountable, and fighting against oppressive regimes all give me hope of a just, peaceful and prosperous future. I am hopeful of a better future and I am glad to work alongside millions of students and youth activists to create a just world for all.
Meet Peter Kwasi Kodjie
Peter Kwasi Kodjie is currently the Secretary-General of the All-Africa Students Union (AASU).
Peter has variously represented the students of Africa on the Tuning Africa Project Advisory Group (TAPAG) Phase II and is presently an advisory board member of the Harmonization of African Higher Education Quality Assurance and Accreditation (HAQAA2) Initiative, and the Africa Continental Qualifications Framework (ACQF) – joint European Union-African Union projects on the harmonization of the Higher Education ecosystem in Africa.
Peter is a founding Trustee of the 100 million Campaign (founded by the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi). Peter is also a founding member of the Global Student Forum (GSF) and serves on the Governing Council of the Magna Charta Observatory (MCO) as the global student representative. Peter has a strong passion for leadership, youth empowerment, and human rights.