Addison & Ali: Grads champion child care in Africa

- Christine McLaren

Two students from the Early Childhood Development Virtual University (ECDVU), Ruth Addison and Masoud Mohamed Ali, may be travelling the farthest distance to participate in this month’s convocation ceremonies at UVic. From Ghana and Kenya, respectively, they will receive their graduation certificate in Professional Specialization in International Child and Youth Care for Development.

Twenty-three students from nine African countries participated in this one-year web-based and face-to-face program of UVic’s School of Child and Youth Care, designed to support African countries’ ability to address the health and well-being of their children. Ninety-six per cent of participants complete the program and 100 per cent remain in Africa.

The two graduating students will be presenting “Early Childhood Care and Development in Africa: A UVic initiative in support of Leadership and Capacity” on Wed., June 4 from 7–9 p.m. in Hickman 105. For more information about the program visit

Masoud Mohamed Ali

His love of children and a sense of duty drew Masoud Mohamed Ali of Mombasa, Kenya, to the Early Childhood Development Virtual University program.

Ali started his career as a teacher and in 1997 joined the Aga Khan-supported Madrassa Resource Centre for early childhood development and is currently the project director for three districts on the Kenya coast.

He has witnessed first hand the difficulties faced by many of the world’s neediest children and is compelled to make a difference. “I am obliged to find ways to improve the quality of life for the bright and often underprivileged children of Africa,” says Ali.

The program provided Ali with an opportunity to learn from the “richness of experiences” shared by his fellow students throughout Africa. The valuable online learning tools enabled students to express views and opinions within group discussions that happened right across the continent.

“I appreciate the way that UVic is supporting theory and practice relevant to Africa,” says Ali. He says the knowledge gained from the program will be shared with other colleagues and working groups, and feels his education is an investment in African children and the leaders of the future.

Ali aims to complete a master’s in early childhood development and continue to give back to the country and continent that is his home.

He and his wife, Zakiya, have recently celebrated the arrival of their first child—a girl named Farhiya, which means “joy” and “happiness.” This loving father is living his dream, and Africa is the better for it.

Ruth Addison

Recalling the words of her mother, graduate Ruth Addison from Accra, Ghana, had to admit that “mommy was right after all.” She would often say “teaching and education do not only happen in the classroom.” Embracing this wisdom, higher education and the joys of motherhood, Addison has embarked on an outstanding career as a national advocate for early childhood development in Ghana.

Since 2002 she has been with the Ghana National Commission on Children in the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, where she is the senior program officer. She engages all levels of government and works hard at building relationships and bridging obstacles.

The need for a more focused national early childhood development strategy drew her to “the obvious choice for capacity building”—the unique ECDVU program in the School of Child and Youth Care. The web-based and face-to-face components of the program provided international exposure with renowned experts without having to relocate to pursue graduate studies.

“I found the course content so relevant to my work,” says Addison. “It provided me with clearer linkages between theory and practice.” Along the way she balanced her heavy workload, engaging course work and a fulfilling family life, excelling in all areas.

Opportunities for networking within the program were invaluable and provided a platform to share experiences and best practices on issues relevant to each student. “We were one big family seeking to improve the health and welfare of all our children.”

Her role as a mother is at the root of her dedication and tireless commitment to the children of her country. “Recognizing the importance of the early years and contributing our quota of support is what really matters,” says Addison. “But in all of this my role as a mother takes precedence over everything.”

In this story

Keywords: child and youth care, Africa, international

People: Ruth Addison, Masoud Mohamed Ali

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