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“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope” — Kofi Annan

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, promotes, universal access to quality education and learning opportunities throughout people’s lives. As an organization that celebrates youth and all the possibilities in their future, we tend to highlight the positive aspects to every story. But don’t be fooled. There is a stop sign you cannot see but our students and communities of East Africa know well. The stop sign comes in the forms of fees charged for schooling.

The reality for many of the students in our communities is that resources are scarce. Whatever they have usually goes into ensuring the family’s basic survival, and is a pattern that’s repeated for generations, made even worse in rural areas where there is much less income to go around. Education just naturally finds itself at the bottom of the priority list.

In rural East Africa, students rely on chance and miracle

This is usually in the form of sponsorships that come through to provide for their schooling. No matter the student’s commitment or accomplishments, not getting a sponsorship for their studies means coming to the end of the road. But for some lucky few, a sponsor or gathered family income can come together to aid in education.

Such was the case with Victor and Herbert, brothers and Asante Africa scholars in Kenya. They are top of the class and are always competing for the #1 spot. As a rule, Asante Africa gives scholarship to only 1 student per family. Herbert won the scholarship but he told us to give it to Victor, because in his words “Victor’s the reason why I’m in school. Lack of funds meant Herbert had to drop out. The teachers in the school believe in these brothers so much that they’ve come up with ways to ensure they get an education. “If Asante Africa is willing to sponsor this child next year, we will finance this year, and convince the school to forgive previous year’s debt.” Herbert has been told that nothing comes for free so he’s works for Asante Africa in exchange. The scholarship has changed his life. He says, “I am not ashamed and humiliated anymore from not being able to pay for my school fees. And because I don’t have to worry about that, I can focus on studying.”

A student with such support can go forward with other choices opened, due to education — improved job, housing, and health options.

We have a chance to change this for many

We’ve over ten years of experience leveraging change throughout generations — providing scholarships for students, ongoing leadership development, and girls advancement support. Scholarships awarded by Asante Africa are contingent upon the recipient’s academic performance, good behavior, as well as family engagement, ensuring student accountability with clear expectations and sharing the responsibility among the student, guardian, Asante Africa and the community. We spend extensive time mentoring and coaching students for success, as they prepare for these exams mentally, emotionally and analytically.

Over these 10 years, the Scholarship Program has been able to provide over 275 students with quality education, not just being in a classroom. This year we have 14 students (91%) entering secondary school, with 100% of our Form-6/A-Level students qualifying for University! Currently, there are 15 students enrolled in education beyond high school (university, college, etc). With numbers like these, we know our programs are working.

We invest in training teachers, following unconventional teaching methods such as introducing digital literacy to shrink the divide and leverage these resources. Our Accelerated Learning and Leadership Program help communities create an impact beyond the classroom.

Our focus is not only to get the students to school but also to create an environment that allows them to go “Back to School.” Regular mentoring from peers and other students in Asante Africa’s scholarship programs, helps these kids ‘keep the faith’ and move forward.

This #literacy day, support our campaign to send 46 students that have met an ambitious scholarship criteria, back to school. Help open the path to learning, wonder, and change. It’s less than $3 /day.

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