As the world’s leading countries and corporations search for new frontiers, all eyes are focused on Africa. The continent offers many opportunities for economic activity and prosperity. African nations are seeking to take advantage of their position but face tough obstacles due to an undereducated population.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, 176 million adults are unable to read and write. 47 million youths ages 15-24 are illiterate and 32 million primary aged children are not in school. In nations like Malawi, one of the world’s poorest nations, where 45 percent of the population is under 14 years old, it is imperative to produce future generations of educated citizens capable of lifting the nation out of poverty.
Malawi is a land locked nation and is home to approximately 17 million people. The country does not have many natural resources such as oil like its neighboring countries. The economy is based on agriculture, mainly, the export of tobacco and is supported through financial aid by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
In order to turn the tide and help the people of Malawi, Xanthe Ackerman founded Advancing Girls’ Education in Africa, or AGE Africa.
AGE Africa seeks to transform the lives of millions of young girls by providing them with opportunities to become educated leaders. Beginning with Malawi, the organization’s vision is to ensure all girls in Africa have equal access to secondary education and that they be able to leverage their education into economic opportunities.
Advancing Girls’ Education in Africa seeks to create informed citizens capable of making their own life choices.
The Advancing Girls’ Education in Africa organization has a multidimensional approach to achieving their stated goals. The first begins with comprehensive scholarships that allow girls to not only attend schools but also complete their education. Scholarships go towards providing for tuition and school related expenses.
The second approach deals with extracurricular programs that promote life skills, leadership development, self-advocacy and career guidance. The final piece of the program, post-secondary transitions, ensures that the girls have the necessary information, resources, and support to apply for educational and economic opportunities beyond high school.
AGE Africa’s impact on the girls of Malawi is extraordinary.
By age 20, just 17 percent of Advancing Girls’ Education in Africa participants are mothers compared to 65 percent of 20-year old women in Malawi. About 88 percent of AGE Africa students finish all four years of secondary school, compared to just 8 percent nationwide.
Among these students, 74 percent are now pursuing higher education, have wage-based employment or engage in economic activity that provides income above the poverty threshold.
The tremendous success of Advancing Girls’ Education in Africa within the country of Malawi is beacon of hope for the nation and a promising sign of the future for other girls throughout the continent.
– Sunny Bhatt