Ghana’s George Ayisi-Boateng inspired many across the world when he bagged a Ph.D. from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa at the age of 75. Ayisi-Boateng had clinched a Bachelor’s degree at the age of 64 and an MBA at 67 when he made headlines this July for successfully graduating with a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Political Economy from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.
His topic for the Ph.D. studies was “Political Regimes and Ghana’s Economic Development in the 4th Republic.” Ayisi-Boateng, who was Ghana’s High Commissioner to South Africa between 2017 to 2021, told Graphic Online that it was tough growing up as his dad died when he was in primary three, leaving him and his 15 siblings to be cared for by their mother.
He said many of his siblings had to drop out of school. He also struggled before completing Form 5 with a GCE (General Certificate of Examination) Ordinary Level (O-Level) certificate from the Benkum Secondary School in Ghana’s Eastern Region in 1968.
With his O-Level certificate, he started looking for a job and eventually got one at AGIP SPA Ghana Limited (now Ghana Oil Limited, GOIL) in 1971. Ayisi-Boateng worked there for some time before starting his own business in petroleum retailing, imports and exports in the 1980s, according to Graphic Online. But while working, Ayisi-Boateng was taking private classes, and by 1994, he had succeeded in writing and passing the GCE Advanced Level (A-Level) certificate.
Becoming a politician and a businessman, Ayisi-Boateng wanted to go back to school but not without ensuring that his children were highly educated first. In 2005 when he decided to go back to school, his first daughter had finished school and was teaching at St Louis Secondary School in Kumasi. His second was at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) while the third had then completed university in Canada. The fourth child was also in the fifth year at the School of Medical Sciences (SMS) at KNUST and the last child was in the nursing training school, Graphic Online reported.
At the time also, Ayisi-Boateng had assisted other young people to pursue their education. And after discussing with his family and friends about his decision to go back to school, Ayisi-Boateng, who was then a Board Member of the Tema Oil Refinery under Ghana’s President J.A. Kufuor’s government, enrolled in a part-time evening Bachelors program at the Kumasi Campus of the University of Education.
In 2009, at the age of 64, he completed his Bachelors in Business Administration (BBA) and went on to enroll in a Master of Business Administration post-graduate course at the KNUST for evening lectures, which he completed in 2011.
But Ayisi-Boateng was not done. He went on to the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa where he recently graduated with a Ph.D. at 75. The politician and entrepreneur registered for the Ph.D. program in February 2019 while serving as a High Commissioner of Ghana to South Africa in his 70s, which speaks to the fact that it is never too late to chase one’s dream. Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo appointed him as a High Commissioner of Ghana to South Africa in 2017.
After earning his Ph.D., he said he dedicates it to his family and the president for giving him the opportunity.
“Had it not been him, I’d not have been able to pursue that career,” Ayisi-Boateng told Graphic Online.