Profile: Meet Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang


Prof. Opoku-Agyemang previously held the position of running mate to Mr. Mahama during the 2020 general elections.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party held a meeting on Thursday, March 7, 2024, during which they officially approved Mahama’s selection for the running mate position.

The National Executive Committee today March 7, 2024, officially endorsed Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as the running mate for the party’s flagbearer, in the upcoming 2024 general elections.

Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang born 22 November is a Ghanaian academic and politician who served as Minister for Education from February 2013 to January 2017. She is a full professor of literature.

She served as the first female Vice-Chancellor of a state university in Ghana when she took over as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast. She currently serves as the Chancellor of the Women’s University in Africa.

In the December 2020 Ghanaian presidential election, she partnered with John Mahama as his running mate on the NDC party ticket. Mahama made an official declaration of Opoku-Agyeman as his running mate on July 6, 2020.

Early life and education

Born on 22 November 1951 in Cape Coast, Ghana as Jane Naana Sam, she attended Anglican Girls’ Secondary School at Koforidua and Aburi Presby Girls’ School. She then had her secondary education at the Wesley Girls High School in Cape Coast from 1964 to 1971.

She completed B.Ed.(Hons) in English and French at the University of Cape Coast in 1977. She earned a Diploma in Advanced Studies in French from the University of Dakar and obtained her master’s degree and Doctorate degrees from York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1980 and 1986 respectively.

Academic career

Opoku-Agyemang taught and worked at the University of Cape Coast, starting in 1986. She has held various academic positions including Head of the Department of English, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Warden of Adehye Hall, Valco Trust Fund Post-Graduate Hostel, and the Founding Dean of School of Graduate Studies and Research.

From 1997, she has held the position of Academic Director of the School for International Training in the History and Cultures of the African Diaspora. From 2008 to 2012 she was the university’s Vice Chancellor. She assumed duty on 1 October 2008, succeeding Emmanuel Addow-Obeng.

In March 2007, she was one of five scholars selected to deliver presentations during the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

In October 2009, she was elected Ghana’s representative to the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Ahead of the 2012 general elections, Jane Opoku Agyemang moderated the debate with Kojo Oppong Nkrumah.

On 26 October 2018, she became Chancellor of the Women’s University in Africa located in Zimbabwe.

She has served on many local and international boards and committees such as the Centre for Democratic Governance, (CDD-Ghana), the editorial board of the Harriet Tubman Series on the African Diaspora (Africa World Press Inc. USA), the Africa Initiative in Canada, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons as an Eminent Citizen.


Opoku-Agyemang is an author. Her focus areas include Literature with a focus on Women from Ghana, Oral literature in Ghana and Africa, and Communication Skills and Issues in the African Diaspora. As an academic, she has written and published in scholarly journals and presented articles at various conferences including at the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and at the Inaugural Lecture to the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In 2015, as Education Minister, she published and launched a five-volume collection of published folktales titled ‘Who told the Most Incredible Story?


Minister for Education

Between February 2013 and January 2017 she served as the Minister of Education after she was appointed by President John Mahama to serve in that role after the National Democratic Congress had won the 2012 Ghanaian general election.

One of her focus areas was empowering the girl child education and empowering women. During her tenure as Minister for Education, she focused on implementing policies that covered inclusiveness in education in Ghana which birthed the Inclusive Education Policy 2015.

Vice presidential campaign

Opoku-Agyemang was selected as the presidential running mate for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) on July 6, 2020, for Ghana’s December 2020 General elections. She became the first female running mate of the two major political parties in Ghana.

Her selection by the flagbearer, John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress was applauded by women groups and women activists as a positive sign to the Ghanaian political scene to promote gender balance and equality.

She appealed to Ghanaians to vote for change and promised to use her office as vice president to influence sustainable development and practical youth-centred policies. Her campaign message was devoid of attacks on opponents.

Her intensive campaign in the coastal communities and her home region, the Central Region yielded results as the NDC won most of the constituencies they had lost in 2016. The NDC also won 9 out of the 16 regions in Ghana including the major battleground, Greater Accra.

Prof. Opoku-Agyemang continues to remain one of the most influential voices in Ghanaian politics. She has criticized the implementation of the government’s Free SHS policy which was a major campaign item for the ruling party.

Professional association

Opoku-Agyemang is a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, University Teachers Association of Ghana, English Studies Association, African Studies Association, United States, African Literature Association, United States and International Fulbright Scholars Association, Commonwealth of Learning amongst others.

Personal life

Opoku Agyemang is a Christian who worships as a Methodist. She has three children; Dr. Kweku Opoku-Agyemang, Dr. Kwabena Opoku-Agyemang and Dr. Maame Adwoa Opoku-Agyemang.

Awards and recognition

Opoku-Agyemang has been honoured with honorary degrees from the University of West Indies and Winston-Salem University. She has also received an award for Global leadership from the University of South Florida in Tampa.

She has also received the Officer of the Order of the Volta award for Academic Distinction in 2011 by President John Atta Mills. And Ghana Women of Excellence Award in the Education category due her contribution to the development and promotion of quality education in Ghana.

She has been acknowledged for Outstanding Performance in Advancing International Education, School for International Training, Vermont, USA on two occasions.

In 2020 she was named among the 40 Most Inspirational Female Leaders in Ghana for serving as a role model for women in Ghana and in Africa Avance media also named her among the 100 Most Influential Women in Africa.  In January 2023, Opoku Agyemang was listed among the 100 most reputable Africans.