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British campaigner wins $500k award for educating African girls

A leading British educationalist has been awarded a prestigious global award for her work in helping millions of African girls to access education.

At the World Innovation Summit for Education (Wise) summit in Qatar today, Ann Cotton, founder of Camfed (the Campaign for Female Education), was named the 2014 WISE Prize for Education Laureate.

The title, which comes with a $500,000 prize, was awarded in recognition of Camfed’s work, which has benefited more than 3 million children in Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Ms Cotton, who was appointed OBE in 2006, said she was “honoured” to become the fourth Wise Laureate since the title was established in 2011.

“I accept this prize on behalf of the million girls Camfed is committed to supporting through secondary education in the next five years – a million girls whose poverty has so far robbed them of confidence and agency, and who do not yet know what an amazing transformation awaits them,” she said.

The chairman of Wise, Sheikh Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, said: “Ann Cotton has dedicated her life to improving the education of girls and the empowerment of young women in sub-Saharan Africa. She has created a successful education model not only benefiting millions of children from the poorest areas but also ultimately entire communities”.

The announcement was welcomed by British prime minister David Cameron. “The scale and impact of the work she has done through Camfed to educate millions of girls and young women in Africa is simply remarkable,” he said.

“The government I lead is deeply committed both to universal high-quality education and to improving the life chances of citizens in developing nations, which is why I cannot think of a more worthy winner of this prestigious award.”

More than 1,500 education experts from more than 100 countries are attending the Wise summit in Doha.

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