A sure sign of the high level of achievement expected of the extremely capable Educate! students, Joseph Munyambanza, 18, will be a member of the very first African Leadership Academy class when the school opens its doors this September. Joseph will travel to South Africa from Uganda to enroll in the innovative new school that combines rigorous academics with leadership training, African studies, and Community Service, a school he hopes will bring him closer to his goals of solving the problems he sees in his community, country, and Africa as a whole.
The African Leadership Academy, or ALA, is an intesnive two-year training program designed to develop the leadership skills of young students from nations across Africa. Founded in 2004 by Fred Swaniker, Chris Bradford, Peter Mombaur, and Acha Leke, the mission of the ALA is “To transform Africa into a peaceful and prosperous continent by developing and supporting its future leaders.” Even in its first year, the school was highly selective, admitting only 6 per cent of those who applied. Joseph, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was chosen to be one of the 150 members of the inaugural class based on his academic merits and community service. Joseph has consistently been in the top five in his class, and his results on the national O-level exams placed in the first division, the highest category of scores.
The ALA also looked for strong community involvement and leadership amongst peers in the candidates they select, both characteristics Joseph displays in abundance. While on vacation from school one year, he recruited two friends and began a tutoring program aimed at helping the younger students in the Kyangwali Refugee Camp with their primary school subjects, especially math and science. The first year proved to be successful, and they have since increased the program to include 25 primary school students, as well as 29 enrolled in secondary schools. His interaction with the students through the tutoring programs also led him to take an active role in founding and developing COBURWAS, a Kyangwali Educate! Club aimed at raising funds for textbooks and school fees for youth in the camp, and awareness and education about HIV/AIDS prevention. He also currently serves on the Educate Board of Directors as a liaison between the leadership and the students. Throughout the ALA application process, Joseph noted the important role Educate! has played in influencing his successes an the examples of generosity and kindness provided by members of the clubs.
Joseph also demonstrates a creative side in his leadership, and developed a theater program that promotes HIV/AIDS education through skits and plays that more than 50 of the Kyangwali youth participate in during the holidays.
These various projects, as well as the training he will receive a the academy in South Africa will prepare Joseph for the Culminating Service Project, the cornerstone of the ALA curriculum. This aspect of the school requires the students to design and implement a service program that will begin putting their skills to work in real-world situations. The founders of ALA believe these experiences will give these young men and women the skills they need to guide their countries and continent to peace and prosperity.