Tag Archives: student financial aid

Namibia: The High Cost of Education

7 Sep

A recent article by allafrica has highlighted a significant stumbling block in Namibia (and Africa’s) wider goal to tackle illiteracy and poverty; namely, that the cost of education is too much for many people to afford.

High school costs means fewer pupils can attend lessons.

Maurus Nekaro, the Governor of Kavango Region in Namibia, spoke of how education costs are far too high to be inclusive. Nekaro also pointed to the importance of incorporating media and communications technologies into education in order to enhance studies and facilitate rapid progress. Of course, such technologies cost money and, with fees already on the rise, would such proposals further inhibit the affordability of education?

Nekaro’s comments come at the same time as another headline: tuition and hostel fees at the Polytechnic of Namibia are to rise by 7% and 10% respectively from early next year. Such an increment has enraged the Student’s Representative Council who believe they will see no improvement in the quality of services at the Poly. Members of the Student’s Representative Council have already complained of small classrooms and overcrowding. With the cost of education set to soar in Namibia, questions arise as to how this will affect wider access to post-secondary education in the country. In order to tackle illiteracy and poverty, affordable education must be a higher priority.

 

Photo credit: Caitlin Heller, Wikipedia

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Reflections on Higher Education in Africa

11 Jul

The article naming Jolandie Rust as Huffington Post’s ‘Greatest Person of the Day’  was a great kick-start to Jolandie’s tour as she heads back to Namibia tonight to continue onwards on her Cycle for Education. Jolandie’s trip – as we are all agreed – is a challenge that will present physical and mental obstacles for Jolandie along the way, but it is an important journey that will highlight the Iduka’s cause of higher education in Africa.

Jolandie on her Cycle for Education Tour

Some of the comments posted in response to the HuffPost article however, were a little disappointing and, frankly, narrow-minded to say the least. Unfortunately there are many individuals in this world who are not able to expand their world view and embrace positive humanitarian actions when they are faced with them. Moreover, such people often cite false stereotypes in defence of their arguments. I think it is important to challenge these misconceptions about Africa, and about Jolandie’s tour, head on. It is also crucial to look behind the act of Jolandie’s Cycle Tour of Africa, and embrace the rich opportunities that higher education can offer African peoples.

Firstly, Africa is a vibrant continent, combining cultural diversity with warmth and welcoming spirit… Each country offers inspiration and opportunity in unique ways.

  • Jolandie has experienced spontaneous acts of kindness from strangers throughout her journey so far already, even though it is still so early in the tour. On her way to Windhoek, Namibia, a stranger by the name of Raymond Spall made sure Jolandie had a hot cup of Milo waiting for her at a pit stop along the way.
  • In terms of education opportunities, inclusive organisations are inspirational gems. The Undugu Society of Kenya (a country yet to be travelled by Jolandie) has been empowering deaf children and young people from the slums and streets of Nairobi since 2008. These deaf children and young people have enjoyed increased opportunities with such an organisation, including: accessible primary education with their peers, advocacy skills, and widespread integration (as they can teach their friends and teachers how to sign).

Iduka wants to build on these important foundational levels of education and increase opportunities for these disadvantaged youths in higher education.

Hot cup of Milo from Raymond Spall

Also, it is undeniable that Africa is a continent that has faced its share of conflict… but which continent hasn’t?

It is important for high-profile figures like Jolandie, organisations like Iduka and Undugu, humanitarian individuals like Iduka’s volunteers, and – most importantly – students like Iduka’s scholarship recipients, to continue to champion unity, education and equal opportunity. Crucially, it is these sorts of individuals that make up the majority of Africa’s population – kind, intelligent individuals that care about the educational development of their continent.

  • One of Iduka’s scholarship students, Neville Albert, is a keen film-maker and has been involved in film projects that have highlighted the plight of disadvantaged individuals in Nairobi. Neville continues to work on ground-breaking film projects for Iduka – an African student championing African causes.
  • Iduka’s in-country partners Kisima of Kenya (led by John Ndegwa) and AID-SL of Sierra Leone (led by Sylvanus Marray) are dedicated local organisations that promote education and equal opportunity in their respective localities. Such organisations spring out of the care and compassion of their creators.

    John with a Kismia volunteer

     

    Sylvanus with AID-SL students

Furthermore, Higher Education is a building block that will help make countries strong and nations great. It is not a lack of will or educational apathy that has prevented higher education expansion in Africa, it is simply down to a lack of opportunity.

  • This fundamental difference is what drives inequality in each country and stifles the development of all nations (even in the UK, 15% of boys in the lowest socio-economic bracket do not attain the qualifications required to attend higher education. Such low attainment contributes to wider economic disparity between the rich and poor).
  • Lack of opportunity has severe consequences. Studies have shown that mortality is highest among children born to illiterate mothers and illiterate fathers.
  • Jolandie herself was unable to pursue a future in higher education in South Africa as it was unaffordable for her family – this is an opportunity-limiting factor that Jolandie is fiercely campaigning against in her Cycle for Education with Iduka.
  • Importantly though, success stories are plentiful and increasing. In March of this year Somali-civilsociety.org reported that Somalian women in increasing numbers are being allowed to stay in school until their late teens. One of these school success stories is that of Harfo Primary School run by Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development or GECPD, a local NGO. Iduka, with its ever increasing number of volunteers, partners and student applications, is another one of these success stories. Opportunities ARE increasing, and it is down to individuals to be part of this change.

Of course this list of African educational achievements and future targets is not exhaustive – with a continent so diverse I don’t think any list or one article will encapsulate what it really means to follow education in Africa. Nonetheless, it is vital to keep celebrating successes, challenging inequalities, and opening opportunities in whatever way possible – and this should all be done with a positive attitude!

 

Students enjoying a class in Kenya

Back to Windhoek!!

6 Jul

FINALLY!!!

I will be flying back to Windhoek on Tuesday, 12 July!
I hope to be back on the road, officially, by latest Friday – 15 July.
That gives me little over a week to make it to the Angolan border, then a month to get through Angola.

So you can expect more ‘exciting’ updates pretty soon!!

“The road calls”

In the meantime, check out an article about my trip on Jacaranda FM!! There’s an audio interview as well that you can listen to.

I had a meeting on Monday with Managing Editor, Denzil Taylor, at Jacaranda FM. I’m very happy to announce that they have come on board in a big way!
Now you’ll be able to listen in LIVE for weekly updates. I’ll be chatting to the team every week to keep you all updated on where I am and how things are going.

A big thank you and a very warm welcome to the Jacaranda FM team!

I’ll post an update as soon as we’ve sorted out the more ‘nitty-gritty’ details.

In the meantime: Check out their Website.

2 Down – 1 To Go

27 Jun

The long awaited Angolan visa!

Okay, I now have a visa for Angola that is valid until the 24th August and a visa for the D.R.C, which is valid until the 7th September. I picked up my passport from the Embassy of DRC in Pretoria this morning and went straight to the Congo embassy, a few blocks down, and handed in my application. My visa for Congo will be ready on Thursday! So….I should be back in Windhoek by this coming weekend!

And today marks 2 months on this journey!  Here’s a little video to celebrate…

 

Michelle Obama on Education

30 May

At the end of last week Michelle Obama, the wife of US President Barak Obama, re-visited pupils from a London (UK) comprehensive school.

The school – Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School – is one of the 2% most deprived in the country, 55 different languages are spoken within its walls, and 92% of the pupils are black or from ethnic minority backgrounds… and yet the school has been classed as “outstanding” by the UK Education inspectors, Ofsted. Michelle Obama’s message to the pupils of this school was clear, inspiring, and universally applicable…

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Learn to use your voice now.”

Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States¹

 

Michelle Obama is a woman who seems exceptional in her education background and career successes. She attended Harvard Law School and is now the First Lady of America. However, she grew up in an underprivileged area in Chicago and often felt discouraged from applying to an elite university. Fortunately, she did not let her background dictate her aspirations…

“I realised that success is not about the background you are from, it is about the confidence that you have and the effort you are willing to invest.”

This is a message that should ring true throughout the whole of the world. Education is the key to betterment – both on an individual level and for wider society. The girls from the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School have been inspired by Michelle’s recent talks in the UK and now feel that the sky is the limit in education. The aspirations in Africa should be no different – post-secondary education will unlock a better future. Iduka calls for more post-secondary education opportunities in Africa; Michelle Obama calls for self-belief and ambition among the world’s youths. Let us encourage the leaders of Africa to hear these cries for progress… the future is in education.

 

¹Image credit: Wikipedia. Joyce N. Boghosian, White House photographer.

Harsh Winds and Kind People

12 May

Beautiful Sky For Jolandie

 

After picking up her journey on the 6th May, Jolandie’s journey has looked a little like this:

 Clanwilliam –> Klawer –> ‘Oom Buys Wiese farm (25km outside of Vanryhnsdorp).

 On the Clanwilliam to Klawer leg of the journey Jolandie met a holidaying couple from Robertson and she chatted to them about her ‘Cycle For Education’ Tour. Unexpectedly, they offered her R100 (local currency) in order to contribute to her journey… with spirits high and confidence in the goodness of humanity she tackled the rest of the day’s journey with ease!

Unfortunately, from Klawer to ‘Oom Buys Wiese farm she faced the strength of Mother Nature and a cyclists worst enemy: harsh winds. The day was slow and extremely tough, when she finally parked up for the night, Jolandie spent her first night in the tent… alone. “It was great!” Jolandie declared – she cooked her supper on a little stove and slept like a baby.

Jolandie's Tent... nice and cosy

 Unfortunately Die Knersvlakte, or the ‘Grinding Plains’, remained. According to Jolandie, “The roads just go on forever and ever and ever…and EVER!!” and on top of that, the wind met her head-on. After a flat tyre and a small collision with the road she made it to Bitterfontein just before sunset.

 Next Stop…. Springbok!

What’s After Secondary Education in Kenya?

8 May

This video was produced and shot by one of our students, Neville Albert, as part of his monthly progress report. Neville is currently a student at the prestigious Mohamed Amin TV and Film Training Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. He is also a recipient of a Reuters Thompson scholarship.

Make sure you check out his story here. To invest in students in Kenya, please visit this page.

We appreciate your contribution to Neville’s education!

Videographer’s Note:  This video was done on a HD mobile phone and edited for the most part on a Nokia N73. It was compressed using handbrake and sound on FPE. 

10 Days on the Road

6 May

Entering Moorreesburg!

After just over a week on the ‘Cycle For Education’ Tour, Jolandie has experienced enough to fill a month! Crowds gave her a fantastic send off from Cape Town on the 27th April, but misfortune struck on the following day… Jolandie fell ill with flu. Cycling 50km, she made it to Malmesbury and then was forced to rest for a little while to recover. Pushing forward, on day three, Jolandie managed to make the cold and windy journey to Moorreesburg, but the illness would not shake off! Moreover, weather forecasts predicted rain from the 3rd May until today… so Jolandie decided to take a few days to rest and recuperate. She will need full strength for what lies ahead and already the elements have pushed challenges in her way.

Jolandie predicts that she will reach the border and enter Namibia in about 10 days time. Namibia is situated on Africa’s South-West coast. With a population of just 2.2 million, it is sparsely populated and mainly filled with desert land (this will increase the challenges on Jolandie’s journey!)

Jolandie on the road

Namibia will be holding a national ‘Conference on Education’ from June 27 to July 1 in the capital city, Windhoek. The Conference will provide an in-depth analysis of the education system at all levels and will seek to improve the system for ‘Quality Learning Outcomes and Quality of Life’ (Source: The Namibian). Jolandie’s Cycle for Education through Namibia could not be better timed – by delivering her open letter to the leaders of Namibia when she crosses the border, Jolandie will be helping to raise the profile of higher education at a time when the country itself will be reflecting on educational issues.

News Source:

The Namibian (2011), ‘Conference on education in June’, (Accessed 5 May 2011)

Iduka Partnership with A.I.D. (Advocacy Initiative for Development) in Sierra Leone!

28 Apr

Iduka is proud to announce a partnership with Advocacy Initiative for Development (AID) Organisation based in Sierra Leone. AID began as a youth services agency but, after incredible success, has expanded to encompass broad-based programmes that offer educational and vocational training, advocacy for human rights, and services that promote the development of whole communities.

Founder of AID, Sylvanus Murray, facilitates computer training

AID has now taken on the role of Iduka Field Partner as part of Iduka’s Africa Pilot Project (iAPP), and will have the important responsibility of selecting, supporting and developing Iduka’s scholarship recipients. Mr. Sylvannus Murray (pictured) is the founder of AID and is now a Vice Chair on the Executive Committee for Iduka, assisting student development in West Africa.

As an iAPP Partner, AID has several key responsibilities, including:

  • The selection and submission of students for Iduka’s scholarship scheme
  • Reviewing student candidates that are forwarded by Iduka (local students that have contacted Iduka directly)
  • Personally interviewing student candidates
  • Maintaining records of each student
  • Assisting students with their online profiles and subsequent online profile updates
  • Managing the scholarship moneys that are payable to the educational institution that the student is attending
  • Conducting follow-up interviews to make sure the students are getting all the support they need, and are actively volunteering in their community.

Of course, no student can benefit from Iduka’s education scholarships without a committed Field Partner working within the community to provide the vital student support. Moreover, local Iduka volunteers rely on Field Partners such as AID for leadership, mentoring and opportunities to make a difference. The networks and relationships that will result from the AID-Iduka partnership will create international awareness of the importance of higher education in Africa, and this partnership will also offer more education, skills and livelihood opportunities for students in Sierra Leone.

Sylvanus Murray working with volunteers

About AID:

Sylvanus Murray created AID in with the dream of establishing an organisation that advocates for the rights of humanity and offers services for the holistic development of people and their communities. Initially focusing on programmes such as education, health care, skills training, income generation schemes, youth empowerment and protecting women’s rights, the organisation soon expanded to include:

  • Human rights education
  • Gender and women empowerment
  • Child welfare
  • The eradication of human trafficking
  • Good governance
  • Sanitation and hygiene
  • Peace and security…

… to name a few.

With this level of commitment to the development of African nations it is certain that, together, Iduka and AID (and all of Iduka’s partners) will push forward the post-secondary education agenda in Africa.

Cycle For Education Day 1… Photos!

28 Apr

Here are some of the great snaps of Jolandie’s take off:

Before takeoff – Jolandie and her friends and supporters (photo courtesy of Christopher Venter)

Jolandie was overwhelmed by the amount of support for her yesterday: ‘I, in all honesty, could not have asked for a better start to my journey’, she said.

Jolandie prepares for take off!

 

Distance at zero... but not for long

 

Jolandie sets off… the start of the great adventure

 Jolandie covered 50km on her first day! She spent the night in Malmesbury and has many more destinations up ahead. Updates on Jolandie’s ‘Cycle for Education’ for Iduka will, of course, appear on this blog on a weekly basis 🙂 … keep checking for all the latest!

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