Matilda J Clerk: Meet the Ghanaian Woman who was First to Receive Scholarship in any Field to Study Abroad

Matilda J Clerk: Meet the Ghanaian Woman who was First to Receive Scholarship in any Field to Study Abroad

Matilda Johanna Clerk is known in the history of Ghana to be the first woman in any field who received a scholarship based on academic merit to study abroad.

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She also doubles as the second Ghanaian woman to have acquired a university degree, making her the fourth lady in West Africa to become a university graduate. has put together the historical background of Ghana's iconic woman in the health sector.

Matilda became the first female in Ghana to win a scholarship
Matilda Johanna Clerk in graduation photos Photo credit: University of Edinburgh
Source: UGC

Growing up

On March 2, 1916, Matilda was born to the Clerk family, known for many ”firsts”.

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Her father, Nicholas Timothy Clerk, was the first Clerk of the Presbyterian Church of the then Gold Coast and the founding father of Presbyterian Boy's Secondary School.

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Theodore Clerk, her brother, was the first architect in Ghana and spearheaded the design of the Tema Harbour.

The iconic woman was born in Larteh in the Akuapem Mountains.

Educational background

Matilda Clerk started her primary education at a Presbyterian school and went through middle school at Aburi all girls' middle boarding School.

From Aburi, she gained admission to Achimota School and obtained a Second Divison Teachers' Preliminary Certificate in 1935.

She also partook in an intermediate preliminary course in basic medical science and became the first woman to complete it.

She was elected as the Girls' School Prefect in her senior year at Achimota.

Becoming the first Ghanaian female to earn a scholarship based on merit

Based on her exceptional academic performance, Matilda was awarded a Gold Coast medical scholarship by the colonial government to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh from 1944 to 1949.

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Winning the award made her the first woman in Ghanaian history to receive a scholarship for higher education abroad.

Her career history

Science teacher

Matilda became a science tutor at the Wesley Girls' High School from 1938 to 1940 and later taught biology at Achimota school for two years.


She became a medical doctor and worked at Korle Bu, Kumasi Central Hospital, Effia Nkwanta Hospital, and the Tema General Hospital.

Passing on

Matilda Johanna Clerk spent 68 years on earth.

She died on December 27, 1984, in her home at Osu, Accra.

Meanwhile, earlier shared that Theodore Shealtiel Clerk was the very first formally trained architect Ghana ever had and was known for being the first to have accomplished a number of things in his lifetime.

He has since inspired many to follow in his footsteps and has paved the way for Ghanaian architects.

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2 degrees from 2 universities in 5 years - Ghanaian lady celebrated for academic achievement has put together historical information about Ghana's very first architect.


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