Mrs Matilda Amissah 2015The?Second Lady, Mrs. Matilda Amissah-Arthur as part of her visit to the United Kingdom has toured the Somerville College and Wood Stock Oxford Library.

The Second Lady who is a Professional Librarian and former President of the Ghana Library Association is also helping to revive the reading culture in Ghana and has been donating educational materials to schools in the rural areas of Ghana.

Mrs Matilda Amissah-Arthur who has already delivered a lecture on mentorship at the Harris Manchester College in Oxford University is in the UK at the invitation of ?Attaining the Peak? a student-led group that aims at the development of different dimensions of young students? capability and educational or professional development.

Somerville was founded in 1879 to give women, at that time excluded from membership of the University, the chance to benefit from an Oxford education. The College, which has admitted men since 1994, fosters a pioneering spirit.

From its foundation in 1879, Somervillians have been making their mark on the world around them. Its founders insisted that Somerville should be non-denominational (unlike many other Oxford colleges at the time) and that no discrimination would be made on the basis of religious belief.

These ground-breaking origins inspired an ethos of openness, inclusiveness and a willingness to question accepted orthodoxies that has characterized the College ever since.

Dr Alice Prochaska Principal of Somerville College briefing Mrs Matilda Amissah Arthur about the college praised her strength in Librarianship, education, foresightedness, innovation especially embracing the task of helping children in Ghana to keep up with new trends in the information sourcing industry and the changing face of library services in the country.

She said from its foundation in 1879, Somervillians have been making their mark on the world around them.

She said the founders insisted that Somerville should be non-denominational and that no discrimination would be made on the basis of religious belief. These ground-breaking origins inspired an ethos of openness, inclusiveness and a willingness to question accepted orthodoxies that has characterized the College ever since.

Dr Alice Prochaska said Somervillians have a formidable role model in the woman for whom the College is named. Mary Somerville (1780 to 1872) was one of the best known woman scientists of the nineteenth century. She was the author of best-selling books on science and a highly respected mathematician and astronomer and staunch supporter of women?s suffrage and a great advocate of women?s education.

Sshe said Somerville alumnae can boost of an achievement and an impressive number people like the only, British woman to win a Nobel prize in science (Dorothy Hodgkin); the highest ranking female officer of her time in the British intelligence services (the Queen of Spies, Daphne Park); the first woman to lead the world?s largest democracy (Indira Gandhi); the first Indian woman barrister (Cornelia Sorabji) and the first woman Prime Minister of this country (Margaret Thatcher).

She said there are countless others that have forged path-breaking careers in academic life, politics, literature, science, law, business, education and the media she stated.

Dr Alice Prochaska said male undergraduates were admitted in 1994, and although they have had a decidedly shorter period of time, male Somervillians too are making their mark.

She cited examples such Mr Sam Gyimah who was President of the Oxford Union and won Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005, and in 2010 was elected Member of Parliament for Surrey East.

She said today Somerville is home to around 400 undergraduates and 100 graduate students. It is a friendly, vibrant, diverse community, with a bright future

Mrs Amissah-Arthur after the tour of the Wood Stock Oxford Library told the library story of Ghana and the work she has been doing in Ghana in the area of creating awareness in library use.

She said she has helped revived the reading culture in the country by donating educational materials to schools in the rural areas in Ghana, especially the less privileged in society. This is because she knows information is now a commodity.

Mrs Amissah-Arthur also thanked them for giving her such an honour by visiting the College and promised to help the Somerville Library project in Cape Coast known as Molly?s Library which is named after a very supportive local philanthropist, Molly Yankey, who provides weekly updates on the progress of the library, and the work of its two librarians, Regina and Godsway In 2003.

She said some Somerville students including Hattie Begg, Maeve Gill, Stephanie Ashmore, Liz Hollington and Alex Finlayson set up a charity to fund a free public library, and is currently been used by hundreds of adults and children in Cape Coast, Ghana.

She said every year since then, groups of Somerville students have continued to raise funds for the project, and to make yearly visits to Ghana, to talk to the people who use the library and to help with improvements to the building.

Mrs Matilda Amissah Arthur also promised to help and donate books to the Library that has over 300 people use Molly’s Library every week and was also briefed that there are Somerville volunteers who organised fundraising activities throughout the year, with a minimum target of ?2000 each year for rent and wages, plus additional funds to purchase and ship books, and for improvement work and maintenance.

The student volunteers spend a summer working in Ghana, finding out what the community needs from the library.

GNA

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