The gift of – and the right to – education

Education is a human right; it should not be a privilege. Young people can be the change they want to see in the world. It’s just that in many developing countries, young leaders do not always have the means to continue with their education and reach their full potential.

Today, Watipa joins thousands of others around the world in the celebration of Human Rights, as we stand strong in our commitment to making education more accessible to young leaders in developing countries.

Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explains clearly that:

(1) Everyone has the right to education.

(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

This is central to our way of working at Watipa, as we contribute towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and boosting SDG4 in working to ensure inclusive and quality education for all. One of the specific targets under SDG4 is to substantially expand the number of scholarships available to people in developing countries by 2020. Watipa is contributing towards achieving SDG4 through our scholarship programme and youth development work.

We are proud to announce today 15 new Watipa scholarships that have been awarded to deserving young people in developing countries, who need support to continue with their education and who have a vision of how they will share the benefits of their education by using their knowledge to develop their communities.

“I believe that education is a powerful tool for generating jobs, improving incomes, and expanding the opportunities available to poor people like me. It is the best way out of poverty,” wrote Joseph, a 20 year from Malawi, who has been awarded a Watipa scholarship to complete his degree in food and nutrition science.

Another scholarship winner, Tiyamike from Malawi, described the impact the scholarship would have for her and her family, to help other young females avoid early marriage and stay in school: “I come from a background where all my three sisters despite being so bright did not have a chance to achieve their dreams due to extreme poverty in our home…. I know what it means to live in poverty. It hurts when I think of how my sisters’ future was doomed… I believe the scholarship will help me achieve my dreams especially those of protecting the rights of a girl child.” Tiyamike has been awarded a scholarship to continue her study of Medicine at the University of Malawi – she was at risk of dropping out due to lack of resources, and now can continue with her final 3 years to complete the course.

Togala, a 20 year male studying political science in Zambia, has received a “top-up” scholarship from Watipa to complement funding that he already receives from the government for three quarters of his fees. Togala sees education as “the backbone for every kind of development which can potentially result in ultimate national and global development” and explained that it is his “greatest desire to have a society that has the means and capacity to develop, [and] to see young people educated and contributing positively to their communities.”

Today 8 young females and 7 young males join an esteemed group of 36 young leaders who were awarded the first Watipa scholarships in 2016. Four of the inaugural scholars graduated this year, and the others are continuing and progressing with their studies.

The 2017 Watipa scholars come from 6 different countries in Africa and Asia: Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. They are studying a variety of disciplines, including public administration and management (1), food and nutrition (3), social work (1), political science (1), nursing and midwifery (1), medicine (including lab science and surgery) (3), engineering (including chemical, civil and mining) (4), and one is completing secondary school (1).

They criteria for selection for a Watipa scholarship is need, being under the age of 25, living and studying in a developing country, and having the desire and intention to use the benefits of education for local community development.

Watipa is a social enterprise, where the profits from providing ethical consultancy services are channelled to support a youth development fund. We think that the most effective way for communities to develop is to enable more people from within communities to have access to education, so that they can be the leaders of the change they want to see in those communities.

The youth development fund is also supported by individual donors, and more than 164 donations have been made in 2016 and 2017 to help us fund the scholarship programme. In 2017, the combination of the contribution from the social enterprise and individual donations meant that we raised over £30,000 to be able to continue supporting the 2016 Watipa scholars and award the additional 15 scholarships this year.

We will be profiling the Watipa scholarship winners over the coming weeks…. watch this space!

Lucy Stackpool-Moore

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