At KEF, we firmly believe that education is the key to sustainable development in more ways than one. By raising money to award scholarships, we’re increasing access to higher education and investing in future changemakers all across the globe. We’ve compiled a list of the UN Sustainable Development Goals that we’re working towards achieving with access to tertiary education.
“KEF extends more and more scholarships every year, in order to have more students entering the workforce prepared for innovative solutions that will alleviate poverty.” -Maria, Former KEF Intern
When students obtain a degree, they have a better chance of being incorporated into the job market for their skills and education. The more scholarships that we can award, the more students that can graduate and enter the workforce. These new employees can then invest their income into small communities, driving development and stimulating the local economy. Additionally, KEF scholars can use their education to give back to their communities, much like KEF alumnus, Felicien, used his schooling to help local farmers organize their inventory and manage their finances post-harvest.
Many KEF scholars obtained their degrees in agricultural development and have chosen to stay in their communities, where they can implement innovative solutions to crop management. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, many scholars’ communities also faced enormous food scarcity. KEF scholars wasted no time in launching food distribution programs and using their personal savings from our COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to Pay It Forward and provide for their neighbors.
KEF alumna, Thokozani, for example, used her COVID-19 relief grant from KEF to purchase and distribute cooking oil, sugar, soap, salt, matches, and handwashing buckets to members of her community. Her support helped her village in Malawi to make it through the nationwide lockdown.
GOOD HEALTH AND WELLBEING
With education, KEF scholars can learn about disease prevention and proper hygiene techniques. This is especially pertinent right now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when many of our scholars have stepped up to teach their community about sanitation. Many scholars have also gone on to graduate with degrees in the medical field and have used their knowledge and expertise to attend to those in need.
Charles, an alumnus in Uganda, used his degree in Clinical Medicine to work as a medical professional at the Uganda-Kenya border. During the lockdowns, Charles used his relief money to purchase masks and other PPE for him and his coworkers. Charles also provided community members and patients with bars of soap to aid local families that couldn’t afford both food and hygiene products.
How can KEF promote quality education? Every KEF scholar is an example of this goal. We ask that our scholars remain in their communities so that they can Pay It Forward and build up the people around them. Education allows KEF graduates to go on to help their communities with hospital improvement, strategic banking systems, and innovative agricultural planning. Each of these advances contributes to community development, an overall goal of the UN.
Hasifa, a KEF alumna in Uganda, used her Nursing degree to start a drug store in her village. Being well aware of the difficulties in finding safe and affordable medication in her community, Hasifa plans for her drug store to connect families with reliable pharmaceuticals. Her schooling has made it possible to fill a specific need in her community.
Education furthers gender equality by increasing the number of women in the workforce and shrinking the gap in legal disparities between genders. Gender equality, in turn, stimulates equal income distribution and improved healthcare.
Gloria, an incredible KEF alumna in Tanzania, has made huge advances for gender equality in her community as a lawyer specializing in protecting women. Gloria was instrumental in changing discriminatory laws that determined inheritance based on gender. She hopes to run for Parliament again to continue creating policies advancing gender equity.
CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION
Learning proper hygiene and sanitation practices has been essential for stopping the spread of coronavirus. As a result of COVID-19, many KEF scholars like Bina, a KEF alumna in Malawi, have been teaching the people in their community to stay safe by constructing handwashing stations for public use.
Inadequate sanitation has also prevented many young women from being able to attend school. Without access to feminine hygiene products, many young women are unable to fully commit to their education. But thanks to the efforts of Mercy, a KEF student in Uganda, the young girls in Mercy’s village have recently been provided with sanitary kits, enabling them to join their peers in the classroom. Mercy used her schooling to write a report describing how the lack of sanitary pads was forcing young women into early marriages and only being exacerbated by COVID-19. Her commitment to education opened the door for other young girls in her village to continue their schooling.
DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
As graduates continue to enter the workforce with their newly acquired skills, employment rates steadily increase. Education allows students to find work and to invest their earnings back into their communities, stimulating development and economic growth. The KEF motto, “Pay It Forward,” facilitates this goal of economic development as every KEF scholar uses their education to empower and invest in their community.
One particularly amazing example of this can be seen in James, a KEF scholar who created a public forum for development in the form of his blog, The Economic Misfit. James’ blog invites young people to share their perspectives on particularly interesting news stories, encouraging discourse around important issues.
There are hundreds of other inspiring stories of KEF scholars Paying It Forward in their communities and contributing in a way that furthers the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Though we can’t possibly share them all, we hope to shine a little light on some of the amazing things our scholars are doing to give back.