In the current digital age, closing the literacy and education gap is critical for Africa’s growth and development. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically Goal 4, campaigns for collaborative solutions in tackling challenges associated with access, awareness, funding and inclusive programming in literacy and education. Across Sub Saharan Africa where literacy rates are at 76 percent, governments, civil society, and the private sector are working together to address these challenges. In celebration of International Literacy Day on September 8th, we recognize four African organizations working to increase literacy levels and inclusive education on the continent.
Higherlife Foundation’s Ruzivo, Zimbabwe
Improving the livelihood of children through education is at the core of the Higherlife Foundation founded by Zimbabwean philanthropists, Strive and Tsitsi Masiyiwa. In partnership with Econet Wireless, the Foundation created Ruzivo, an online learning platform. This platform offers digital learning materials, tests and exercises to primary and secondary school-aged students in Zimbabwe. Through Ruzivo, students are able to connect with their peers and educators to share ideas, information and knowledge. With 8,000 students joining Ruzivo every week, the platform recently celebrated 150,000 users.
Since its inception in 1996, the Higherlife Foundation has also provided education scholarships to over 250,000 children in Burundi, Lesotho, South Africa, and Zimbabwe through the Capernaum Scholarship, for orphaned and vulnerable children and the Joshua Nkomo Scholarship, for highly talented students.
Visiola Foundation’s STEM Programmes, Nigeria
Located in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, the Visiola Foundation is dedicated to empowering African girls through education, training and mentoring in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) field. Founded by Lade and Debisi Araba, Visiola runs a week-long STEM Summer Camp for young girls designed to stimulate their interest in the related topic areas; a five-week intensive Coding Bootcamp offering participants skills to build careers as computer programmers and tech entrepreneurs; and an out-of-school STEM programme that specifically targets girls that are successful in the STEM field worldwide.
Visiola Foundation also offers scholarships to high potential African girls from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue STEM degrees at the Foundation’s partner institutions. In 2016, Visiola received the Google RISE Award for its efforts to increase access to computer science for young girls.
The Golden Baobab Foundation’s Prizes for Literature, Ghana
Inspired by the absence of children’s books written from an African perspective, the Golden Baobab Foundation nurtures talented African writers and illustrators of children’s stories to improve their craft and possibly turn their stories into published books. Through programmes and workshops, creative and technical resources are provided to improve writers and illustrators’ skill and dexterity. The prestigious Golden Baobab Prizes for African Literature and Illustration discovers and celebrates the best writers and illustrators and honors them with an award and $5,000. Winners of the award have their books published by leading African and international publishers. The Foundation was founded by Deborah Ahenkorah Osei-Agyekum and Rama Shagaya.
KCB Foundation Scholarships, Kenya
At the heart of the KCB Foundation’s Scholarship programmes is the desire to increase access and improve the quality of education for Kenya’s bright and less privileged children. In Kenya, expenditure for secondary school students average about $250 which takes up half of the annual household expenditure in poor communities. KCB Foundation’s scholarship package covers learning materials, school fees for the duration of secondary school, associated expenses, mentoring sessions with KCB staff, and internship and employment opportunities after school. The program targets between 200 to 240 beneficiaries annually and has over 1,000 beneficiaries including students with disabilities. KCB Foundation is a corporate foundation linked to the KCB Bank Group, and has invested 1 Billion Kenyan Shillings in its social responsibility programmes since 2007.