In November last year, our Tanzania Board of Trustees was faced with one of its more difficult annual tasks. Along with AfricAid staff, days were spent poring over applications from 26 very worthy Kisa graduates who had applied for funds from the University Scholarship Program we administer. The fund supports graduates who are unable to enroll in university without assistance.
The total amount requested far exceeded the available funds. The problem was that every single applicant could make a compelling case for support. In a country where just 26% of women make it to the secondary school level, and only 3% to tertiary education, the fact that each girl had obtained a place at university was in itself an achievement against the odds.
After much discussion, the Board decided that there was no one application they could reject. Everyone would get something, but it wouldn’t be the amount originally applied for. Each applicant, with one exception, got about half of what they asked for – a small contribution towards their tuition fees. The rest of the cost of the tuition, and all living and other course-related costs would be raised by the student from elsewhere.
There was one particular student who stood out from the rest. Magdalena had been one of the most dedicated Kisa Scholars our Mentors had ever worked with. She had even volunteered her time extensively to assist AfricAid staff with running the annual Career Day event. She approached university with the same commitment, getting her application in early, carefully making sure she’d done as much as she possibly could to convince the Trustees to support her request, and following up with AfricAid staff to see how her application was progressing. Subsequently, Maggie has had the full cost of her tuition covered for the 2014-2015 university year. She is studying law at Tumaini University, Makumira.
26 Kisa graduates commenced or returned to university in October. They are studying things like education, sociology, law, business administration, finance and accounting and health sciences. They are changing the face of Tanzanian society. They are challenging stereotypes, breaking down barriers, and making Tanzania a more equitable place. We are incredibly honored to watch these strong young women carve out a path for themselves and write a very different story than the one that might have been expected. They are why we do what we do, and they are all worthy!
Photo: Magdalena is studying law at Tumaini University.