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Africa suffers from several problems that stem from weak social, political, and economic systems. Granted, most countries in the continent have their challenges, but at the heart of their problems is the lack of proper education. This problem persists, although many observers agree that empowering the people to think and formulate their own solutions is integral to the continent’s progress (Okwany & Wazir, 2016). Consequently, the lack of proper educational opportunities (especially for Africa’s young population) has caused generations of missed opportunities that could help create meaningful progress for them and their respective communities. Indeed, as Ennis-Smith (2013) says, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” (p. 104).
Many charity organizations in Africa have tried to tackle Africa’s social, political, and economic problems differently. However, many of them have failed to register a meaningful impact because they do not realize the importance of educating the continent’s youngest generations. Instead, most of them focus on giving “handouts” or creating short-term solutions to otherwise long-term and perennial problems affecting the continent (Okwany & Wazir, 2016). Asante Africa is a charity organization that operates in East Africa and recognizes the magnitude of the continent’s problems. It is different from most charity organizations in Africa because it emphasizes the need to educate the continent’s young population as a way of solving its problems and empowering local communities (Asante Africa Foundation, 2017).
This paper is a plea to contribute financially to this organization because it serves an important role in bridging the education gap that exists among the marginalized population in East Africa. Doing so will be akin to making an important and positive impact on the continent and, by extension, the larger global community because the education gap in East Africa is worse than any other part of the world. Moreover, the region’s young people are eager to learn and could potentially make an important contribution to their lives, families, and communities. Nonetheless, before delving deeper into these issues, it is, first, important to understand the history of Asante Africa.
About Asante Africa
Founded in 2006 by two educationists, Erna Grasz and Emmy Moshi, Asante Africa has established itself in Kenya and Tanzania by increasing access and quality of education to local communities (Asante Africa Foundation, 2017). Initially, the organization started its operations by formulating programs to increase access to education for two villages in the two countries. However, it eventually grew to provide educational support to more than 22 villages in the aforementioned countries (Asante Africa Foundation, 2017). By fostering meaningful partnerships with more than 18 entities, the organization has also been able to impact more than 25,000 students in Africa and increased the capacity of more than 450 teachers to provide quality care (Asante Africa Foundation, 2017). The organization’s mission is to create quality learning environments (eliminating barriers to education), improving the quality of teaching and learning in schools, and giving merit-based scholarships to needy students (Asante Africa Foundation, 2017). The core activities of the organization are integral to the development of the East Africa region because education is still a huge problem for most countries in that part of the continent.
Why support Education Empowerment in East Africa?
The Education Gap in East Africa is Worse than any other Place
Different organizations and global entities, such as the Social Progress Index and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), have identified Sub-Saharan Africa as one of the most educationally underserved regions of the world (UNESCO, 2013). Literatures abound with examples of how the region is suffering from poor access to high-quality education (Okwany & Wazir, 2016). Particularly, Tanzania and Kenya have been identified to suffer from constant education crises, which are occasioned by periodic conflicts, droughts, and political instability (Mngomezulu, 2012). Limited resources from virtually cash-starved governments have worsened the situation, while retrogressive community practices have not made the situation better (Okwany & Wazir, 2016). Some of the highest rates of corruption and mismanagement have also been reported in the region, further denting the prospects of a full educational reform in the region (Mngomezulu, 2012). These problems have compounded to create one of the worst crises of “educational injustice” to young and upcoming generations who are denied one of the world’s greatest resources today – knowledge.
Statistics from Halai and Tennant (2016) reveal that Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Tanzania (all of which are in East Africa) are among the top 10 countries with the highest number of children out of school in the world. Similar findings show that up to 4.5 million children could be out of school in this region. Some countries in East Africa, such as Somalia and South Sudan, are predicted to have an even bigger population of young people out of school because of conflict, but the exact numbers are unknown (Habitat for Humanity, 2017). Clearly, the above findings show that the East African region lags behind all other parts of the world in terms of access to education (Ennis-Smith, 2013). While the data largely show the extent of the issue, they are not elaborate enough to cover quality issues. Thus, the problem is more serious than highlighted in this paper.
In today’s globalized world, it is difficult to stand by the sidelines as young children who are willing to learn are denied the opportunity of doing so. It is incumbent on us, if not by virtue of our humanity, to help others. This way, we would be solving a problem that could, in future be detrimental to our livelihoods. Indeed, issues of peace, stability, security, and marginalization in one part of the world have been noted to affect others. For example, the lack of education opportunities in one part of the world could easily lead to economic problems in another part of the world.
The recent influx of refugees from Syria to Europe is one such example because it shows how problems in one part of the world could spill over into another. Lack of educational and work opportunities in Ethiopia have also been reported to affect Israel and other western nations. There are many more examples like that. Therefore, it is crucial for us, as global citizens, to help where possible. Asante Africa offers a sustainable way of doing so through its efforts to educate future generations. However, doing so largely depends on the potential to realize tangible change among the target population. Relative to this assertion, the organization is optimistic that it could realize such change, based on the potential for developing a strong educational infrastructure in East Africa, which is explained below (Asante Africa Foundation, 2017).
The Region has a Strong Potential for Development
The East African region comprises of about 140 million people (UNESCO, 2013). Although most countries in this part of the continent are reporting significant economic growth rates, developments in education are significantly worrying and threatening the sustainability of the region’s growth, including the possibility that the natives would participate in the economic activities currently ongoing in the region. For example, the Habitat for Humanity (2017) says most countries in the region have a low enrollment rate of about 20%. This percentage is lower than most parts of the world, including South Asia, which has enrollment rates of about 33% (Okwany & Wazir, 2016). However, there is hope to make things better, in the sense that some countries in the region have proved that with significant donations and grants, they could be able to change the fortunes of the region. Such is the case of Kenya, which is a powerhouse in the region and has reported a significantly higher enrollment rate of 30%, relative to its other East African neighbors (buoyed by a reliance on grants and donations) (Okwany & Wazir, 2016).
It is important to increase such capacity for change because the social, political and economic dynamics of Kenya are largely similar to other countries in the East African community. This is what Asante Africa strives to do. The focus on rural areas is particularly integral to the organization’s operations because this is where most of the underserved population live (Asante Africa Foundation, 2017). There is a clear willingness of children in these regions to change their lives (through education) because they believe it is the key out of poverty and a sure way of improving the welfare of their families and their communities (Wolhuter, 2014). Governments in this region are trying to bridge the education gap that affects rural communities, but because of resource constraints, they are unable to reach these underserved populations. Contributing to the activities of Asante Africa is a sure way of reaching this population and making a difference. It will also foster a sound partnership between governmental and non-governmental actors, which is a sound way of empowering local communities in the continent (Asante Africa Foundation, 2017).
Based on the insights highlighted in this essay, it is difficult to envision a situation where significant social developments can be attained without real progress being made in the education sector. Contributions to Asante Africa would be beneficial in improving the lives of young children in East Africa and will similarly be instrumental in building a safer and more sustainable future for generations to come. Furthermore, such investments would help to improve the security, stability, and livelihoods of many people around the world (those who would be impacted directly and indirectly from the improvement in education standards) because the world today is a global village and the events of one part of the globe are bound to affect another. Indeed, it is untenable for people who are in a position to help to consistently ignore those who are in need of it because the world is integrated. Collectively, any financial contribution would help to create new opportunities for the most marginalized in the society as well as improve their wellbeing and for those around them. Asante Africa provides the channel for doing so.
Asante Africa Foundation. (2017). Asante Africa Foundation. Web.
Ennis-Smith, R. (2013). The last call to witness. New York, NY: Llumina Press.
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Habitat for Humanity. (2017). Poverty and education in East Africa: Breaking the cycle. Web.
Halai, A., & Tennant, G. (2016). Mathematics education in East Africa: Towards harmonization and enhancement of education quality. New York, NY: Springer.
Mngomezulu, B. (2012). Politics and higher education in East Africa: (From the 1920s to 1970). Stellenbosch, SA: African Sun Media.
Okwany, A., & Wazir, R. (2016). Changing social norms to universalize girls’ education in East Africa: Lessons from a pilot project. Brussels, BL: Maklu.
UNESCO. (2013). Education in Eastern Africa. Web.
Wolhuter, C. (2014). Education in East and Central Africa. New York, NY: A&C Black.