Educating Africa

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
John Dewey

schoolgirl

I have travelled all over the world from Bali to Tajikistan, from Greece to El Salvador.  I am a passionate lover of culture and travel.  There is not a place on this planet that I would not be open to visit and see firsthand if given the opportunity. I have eaten grasshoppers in Mexico, slept in a yurt in Kyrgyzstan and eaten my fair share of piping hot sambhar in India.  Having said all of that -I need to make a confession. Although I have been blessed to see many parts of this amazing world,

I heart Africa.

I have an undying love for every country, every tribe, the many languages, the landscape, the food, the history, its struggles and its triumph. Although Africa does not have one singular story, I do believe that every country on that beautiful continent has the potential to mobilize its human capital to help it reach its full potential.  I believe that one day, Africa will transform Africa.  I also believe that there is one key that unlocks  human capital in any society– and that key is education.

Education represents a powerful tool for generating jobs, improving incomes, and expanding the opportunities available to young people in developing countries. Let’s look at some pretty hard facts:

The 2007 Millennium Goal Report states: Based on enrolment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls. And these are regarded as optimistic numbers the report importantly notes that “As high as this number seems, surveys show that it underestimates the actual number of children who, though enrolled, are not attending school. Moreover, neither enrolment nor attendance figures reflect children who do not attend school regularly. To make matters worse, official data are not usually available from countries in conflict or post-conflict situations. If data from these countries were reflected in global estimates, the enrolment picture would be even less optimistic.

Ummm…That’s unacceptable. It makes me sick to my stomach when I think about it. It also makes me angry. Very. Angry.

To right such a huge wrong we will have to think big. We will need new innovative minds, looking at new ways to solve a HUGE problem. We need teachers,government, churches  and  entrepreneurs. A problem of this magnitude needs people who only think about results and the creation of sustainable, replicable programs. We need start up guys!  People who are passionate while being hyped up on red bull- who want to channel that passion and all of their smarts and use it to find new ways to kick ass and make a solemn oath that everyone of the 72 million plus children around the world will get a quality education.

There are many non profits doing wonderful work in this space, helping to educate primary age children all over the world. I want to introduce you to one that is putting some money on the table. Talking the Talk…Walking the Walk…..in Africa.

TeachAManToFish works to support schools and education programs in developing countries to offer a better quality, financially sustainable education to the most needy. They are seeking applications for a competition with a top prize of $10,000 for Africa’s best entrepreneurial education programs. Now in its third year, the competition rewards organizations in Africa that use innovative and entrepreneurial techniques to fill gaps in educational services across the continent. Winners will be selected by a panel of international judges, with the top entry receiving a prize of $10,000 and the two runners-up prizes of $5,000. There is also a $1,000 prize for the best entry for each country. The generous  funding for this competition is being provided by Educating Africa – a foundation committed to introducing cost effective and sensible education initiatives throughout Africa, and to acknowledging some of the tremendousducational projects that have been developed across the continent.

Organizations with sustainable and entrepreneurial education projects wishing to apply should visit the competition website -to enter. Entries must be received before the competition’s closing date www.teachamantofish.org.uk/competition – for full details on how31st December 2009.

Through its local partners Teach A Man To Fish is able to arrange volunteer placements – bringing needed skills to local communities, and offering volunteers a chance to immerse themselves in local culture for a unique life experience. If you are interested in volunteering with  TAMTF-please check out their volunteer opportunities http://www.teachamantofish.org.uk/supportus/volunteerprograms.php

Africa has all the resources needed to mobilize its amazing social, human and financial capital, but Educating Africa is a critical first step.

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