Educate! runs a two year program teaching high school students how to solve Uganda’s biggest challenges. Below, learn about this approach from Maggie Sheahan, an Educate! Program Coordinator, and read what students are doing at Green Hill College as they learn to use practical business skills to give back to their community.
How many people today know about all the problems Africa faces: poverty, disease, corruption, and environmental degradation? Thousands. But, how many people believe that African’s themselves are capable of solving these problems? Not many. With all the exposure Africa receives through news stories featuring the spread of HIV/AIDS, and Hollywood movies portraying the down-trodden and poor, it is understandable that most people see the enormity in Africa’s struggle and forget about the potential within Africans to solve their society’s greatest challenges. Educate! unlocks this potential in students to solve their community’s greatest problems.
The question is how…
Today I am at Green Hill College, shadowing James, an Educate! Mentor (teacher). The brick walls have square shaped holes where window panes might have been. I rub my fingers against the brick; it crumbles gently to dust and stone. The floors leave my shoes covered in red dirt. The roof claps and tings as the rain falls heavy on the rusty tin. This is Green Hill College.
James teaches the Educate! curriculum at Green Hill College every Tuesday. On this rainy afternoon, ten students sit on wooden benches as James breaks down market strategy. The lesson is called “Thinking Differently About Business.” It teaches how to differentiate one’s business from the competition, focusing on four categories: Price, Market, Ownership, and Ethics. The students gather in a group to discuss the business they have started— a fruit seedling business. They can cut costs by collecting and germinating seeds from around their school (price). They can sell them to the local community by leveraging the trust that is connected to the school (market). And they can give back by distributing 10% of their tree seedlings to the poor people they know, at no cost (ethics). It looks like they hit almost all the marks!
I buy a mango seedling after class. They are using part of their profits to host an entrepreneurship conference next week. They have invited neighboring schools and will pass on the knowledge they have learned through Educate! about business practices and public speaking to students their own age. Last week they cleaned the community well. They are gaining confidence through this experience. For the first time in their lives they are being told that they not only can think about business, but that they have a responsibility to think about their communities. This is empowerment in action. We are empowering them to become something more, not just for themselves, but for everyone around them.
Educate! does not ask for donations to buy malaria nets, HIV drugs, food relief, or to build schools. We ask for donations to teach high school students in Uganda how to do all these things on their own.
Without Educate!, the students at Green Hill College would only learn what is included in Uganda’s curriculum. They are lucky to receive an education, but would never be taught the practical skills they need to address their community’s most pressing problems. Their education would not foster a culture of social responsibility. They would lack adults in their lives who push them to become leaders. Without Educate!, our students would still face the same problems they do today- poverty, HIV/AIDS, poor water, poor waste management, the list goes on… With Educate!, our students will become the solutions to these problems.
Invest in the solution. Invest in Africa’s next generation of socially responsible leaders. Invest in Educate!.
-Maggie Sheahan, Educate! Program Coordinator