I recently stumbled across a program of educational development run by the George Washington University in the USA in support of youth from the rural township of Winterverldt in South Africa.
The South Africa project was launched in 2004 and each year youth from the Bokamoso Youth Centre travel to the US, stay with students from the University, attend classes and perform dance, drama and poetry as part of a development program sponsored through the Bokamoso Youth Centre Scholarship Fund.
In 2011 eleven students were hosted by the university, and while this may seem to be a small number of students when you consider that there are millions of African children desperately seeking opportunities like this, we can draw encouragement from this project as it proves that through partnership, it is possible to open the doors to African youth within International Educational facilities.
Progress through partnership is a very positive step forward, and if you consider that in the UK there are 300 facilities of Higher Education, in excess of 5.700 facilities in the USA, well over 400 facilities in Canada, 2,200 listed through China, and that is without considering Australia, Japan, Russia and other European countries.
With well over 10,000 International Educational Facilities to draw from, the leadership shown by The South Africa Project at the George Washington University could easily be rolled out internationally to suddenly provide support to over 100,000 African students. If these places were offered to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, meaning that African Universities continued to provide places to those within the African Educational system who earn the right to a place at university then we find ourselves in a position of incredible opportunity for the youth of Africa.
To set up this type of network of educational partnership across an international spectrum would certainly be a challenge, but not impossible. If a basic model of success, such as the one implemented at the George Washington was duplicated across the board, and partnerships established with communities throughout Africa, it would be left to each individual organisation to operate their Scholarship Fund, and work directly with the community that it partners in choosing its students for the next calendar year.
Great things don’t come through waiting for opportunity to knock on our door. If you look at any successful organisation or individual in this world, their success came through hunger and determination to succeed. As African people we should take heart that there is hope for the disadvantaged within our society if we get up and make it happen.
I don’t believe there is anything wrong with taking the great work piloted by The George Washington university and duplicating it. I believe that we should undertake as a community to use 2012 to network through the African educational systems, identify partitions of our society deserving of such an opportunity and work to develop an African program of development for the youth of Africa. Let’s work to take The South Africa Project of The George Washington University and make it into a worldwide Africa Project.