The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit, and officially came into force on 1 January 2016. Goal 4 is all about education, and world leaders have committed to ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning. One of the targets listed under this goal is to substantially expand the number of scholarships available to developing countries by 2020. This is where the new Watipa scholarship program is making our contribution.
Open for a little over 5 weeks, our scholarship program received 125 applications from 14 countries. A huge response! There is a massive need for more scholarship opportunities like ours to support young people in developing countries.
Why scholarships? We know that the most effective ideas for sustainable community development come from within communities and people living the day-to-day realities of under-development. With scholarships to enable young leaders to study within their own context, we will be filling gaps in their own resources and helping them to develop their own ideas and solutions, and have the confidence to lead the change they want to see.
To achieve sustainable development, economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection all need to work hand in hand for the betterment of individuals and societies. The SDGs were developed by countries to galvanize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. As explained by the UN, sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
It is with both excitement and sadness that we are reviewing the applications for the first round of Watipa scholarships. Excitement, because for the lucky and deserving few scholarship recipients, we will make a life changing difference and support them to achieve their dreams. Sadness, because for the many other good candidates that we will not be able to support this year, there are few other opportunities available.
There is a weight of responsibility that accompanies hope. For the young applicants, waiting in anticipation to hear if they have been awarded a scholarship, they carry the hopes of their families and communities for a different future. For us at Watipa, reviewing their applications, we feel inadequate to do enough when confronted with such an immense need. Equally however, we are inspired to do more, so that we can continue to support young people to achieve their dreams and give back to their communities.
Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education
The Watipa scholarships are contributing to several of the targets under the education goal, including working towards:
- Ensuring equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university;
- Increasing the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship; and
- Eliminating gender disparities in education and ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.