If all students in low income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty (UNESCO 2010).
The poor, rural communities in which EPAfrica works face many challenges. Providing a quality education for their young people is only one. When working with our partner schools, we must be conscious of this wider context and the complex challenges that are faced outside of education.
Secondary education has recently been made free in Kenya and Uganda, a major step forward in ensuring access for all young people. But enrolment rates are still disappointingly low and barriers to access and equity still remain – particular for girls, orphans and those with disabilities.
Many of our partner schools in East Africa are lacking basic resources, such as textbooks and science equipment, preventing teachers from teaching effectively. Access to clean water and electricity is often a major issue, impacting on students' safety and health.
For our rural schools in East Africa, just keeping students in school until completion is an ongoing challenge. Many students have long distances to walk and work long hours at home. Health issues also play a big role, and girls often miss school when they are on their period, or drop out early due to pregnancy.
Many students don’t have access to quality information regarding post-secondary opportunities and as a result cannot make informed plans for their future. Many students are unaware of what subjects and experience they need to achieve their ambitions.
We are passionate about development and proud to put youth-led programmes at the forefront of our work. We are a team of young volunteers who challenge each other and ourselves to support and catalyse positive change in rural secondary schools in East Africa. Our volunteers drive and fuel EPAfrica, running everything from our summer project to fundraising, communications, finance and logistics. But we’re more than that. We’re also our partner schools, our teachers, our students and the communities we work in. Without their expertise, guidance and critical reflection, our programmes couldn’t be the success they are.