04 Jul, 2018

ESSA’s Scholarship Impact Hub Project: ‘A Panacea to the ordeals of the African Youth’

By Ishmael Ofori Aboagye

Cyril Kuornoo Photo: Cyril Kuornoo

As a young African Researcher from Ghana, in all my life and upbringing thus far, I have not only been overwhelmed but seriously concerned with the lack of critical thinking and problem-solving edge among the youth of Africa.

According to United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics (UIS) stipulates that almost 60% of youth between the ages of 15 and 17 are not in education in Africa.

However, I have come to realize that it takes real foresight and vision for individuals and organizations such as Education Sub Saharan Africa (ESSA) to challenge the status quo, start a revolutionary agenda to ensure a leapfrog of the current colossal penurious state of accessibility to education by African Youth. Having had the opportunity to join Ashesi University in Ghana, in 2017, it has not only served as an eye-opener but also deepens me with gratitude. There are Universities like Ashesi on the African terrain that have seen the need to partner with organizations such as the MasterCard Foundation and Jim Ovia Foundation Leaders Scholarship to give youth across Africa the opportunity to afford a world class education.

Africa Leadership University (ALU) has also taken this very benevolent tangent by giving a merit-based scholarship up to $2000 per academic year for their students at the Mauritius Campus, partnering with Mandela Centennial Scholarship Programme: comprising of Graça Machel Trust & Mandela Institute of Development studies (MINDS) and also the Scholarship for Leaders in Conservation for students in the Rwandan Campus.

My experience so far with young Africans, as well as within the diaspora, and having done in-depth research within this field, shows that there still needs more to be done both on the side of students and funders of scholarships. More often than not, I tend to hear the African youth complaining gruesomely about having access to these scholarships. They seem not to have knowledge of scholarships to think of going through the application procedures. Nevertheless, a minority of the youth in Africa who get to know of various scholarships and have gone through the stringent processes of applying, end up not being rewarded with the amount they desire or worse they get rejected.

But a relativistic generalization of presented arguments on this notion by the African Youth seems to be more than true. I came into contact with ESSA, summer 2018, as an Intern for their Scholarship Impact Hub Project. This Project seeks to springboard effective existing relationships between funders and Universities, promoting scholarships as well as students having access to the right scholarships. Working within a cluster of bright young African students studying abroad and within Africa, and headed by ESSA and their consultant, we look forward to mapping spaces within these various loopholes in the scholarship sector accounting for the ordeals of the African youth and to ensure a successful piloting of the Scholarship Impact Hub Project.

Sarah Ban Breathnach said and I quote: “the world needs dreamers, and the world needs doers but above all the world needs dreamers who do.” Maybe we at ESSA might be Dreamers Doing.

Ishmael is currently studying Business Administration in Ashesi University, a young researcher by practice and project lead for several projectsHe is currently interning with ESSA during summer 2018.


Ashesi University Website 2018

Africa Leadership University website 2018

UNESCO Institute of Statistics.



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