Africa: MasterCard scholarship “scaled up”
A scholarship scheme funded by the MasterCard Foundation – as part of a US$27.1 million program – has enabled some 535 students across Africa to earn agriculture-related degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
In what could be one of the most elaborate scholarships schemes for postgraduate and discipline-specific training in Africa, the foundation, in partnership with Uganda-based Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Africa, has offered 315 MSc full bursaries to students from across the continent since 2016.
Under the Transforming African Agricultural Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and Development program, another 193 scholarships have benefited from undergraduate degree scholarships under the program which ends in 2024. This is aside from 27 others who have undertaken doctorate studies under sponsorship of the program.
The students have undertaken their studies at 22 different universities across different countries on the continent, but majority of them are at Kenya’s Egerton and Uganda’s Gulu universities, who were early adopters of the multifaceted training, research and community outreach initiative.
“Since July 2016, RUFORUM, the universities are implementing the eight-year program TAGDeV program aimed at transforming African agricultural universities and their graduates to better respond to development challenges through enhanced application of science, technology, business and innovation for rural agricultural transformation”, said Anthony Egeru, who heads the program.
The initial aim of the project was to directly support the training of 220 students (110 undergraduates and 110 postgraduates) from economically disadvantaged backgrounds from across Africa, but it has since been scaled up.
“The funding targeted delivering 220 students under direct scholarships. However, through frugal use of funds, we have delivered 245 students through the direct scholarship process and additional 290 through the associated scholarship access such as through the community action research aspects of the programs,” he told The PIE News.
The impact of the project has been immense on students, according them a sense of self-discovery, confidence and hope besides helping them attain their dream of acquiring education, he noted.
“Students have created functional enterprises that are now directly employing over 850 people”
Students he observed have been able to give back to their families – some are building houses for their parents, paying school fees for their siblings, or initiating community give-back projects in Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, DR. Congo, Liberia, Lesotho, and others using the bursary.
“Above all we are graduating fewer job seekers, as students have created functional enterprises that are now directly employing over 850 people,” he said of the scheme, which also gives entrepreneurship training to beneficiaries.