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MasterCard Foundation- Advancing Sustainability in Africa through Inclusive Education

The term sustainability is broadly used to indicate programs, initiatives and actions aimed at the preservation of a particular resource. It also means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In addition to natural resources, we also need social and economic resources. Sustainability is not just environmental- ism but also inclusive education.

Mastercard Foundation logo. Photo: Mastercard Foundation

Successful inclusive education happens primarily through accepting, understanding, and attending to student differences and diversity, which can include physical, cognitive, academic, social, and emotional. Africa is associated with Ubuntu values such as inclusiveness and treating others with fairness and human dignity. Such values align with human rights and social justice principles and are also integral to a social approach to inclusive education. An inclusive approach to education means that each individual’s needs are taken into account and that all learners participate and achieve together. It acknowledges that all children can learn and that every child has unique characteristics, interests, abilities and learning needs.

Meanwhile, the Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world.

The Foundation is one of the largest charitable foundations in the world. It operates independently from Mastercard Incorporated, which originally set up the Foundation in 2006. It is a registered Canadian charity with hubs in Toronto, Kigali, Accra and Nairobi, and offices in Kampala, Lagos, Dakar, and Addis Ababa.

Consequently, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program envisions a transformative network of young people and institutions driving inclusive and equitable socio-economic change in Africa.

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at the University of Edinburgh

The University Of Edinburgh, Scotland UK. Photo: Unknown

Education for Sustainability (EfS) is an educational approach that aims to develop students, schools and communities with the values and the motivation to take action for sustainability – in their personal lives, within their community and also at a global scale, now and in the future. Inclusive education is approached from three dimensions: the creation of inclusive cultures, the production of inclusive policies, and the development of inclusive practices.

“Some 850 sustainability-focused postgraduate scholarships for students from Africa have been announced by the University of Edinburgh and the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.” The newly expanded partnership will create a digital education network to support African higher education institutions in developing online degrees, offering an array of postgraduate learning opportunities and equipping young people with the knowledge, skills and networks to promote sustainable changes throughout Africa, the University noted.

In 2021, a Nigerian Social Entrepreneur Hammed Alabi Kayode via the Mastercard Foundation Scholarship completed his MSc degree in Africa and International Development at the prestigious University of Edinburgh. He currently works as the Educational Mentoring Coordinator at Refugee Education (UK), where he currently manages the mentoring hub in West London and connects young refugees/asylum seekers to mentors for educational support.Photo: Hammed Alabi Kayode

“Postgraduate students will be recruited from across the continent with 266 studying full-time in-person and 534 studying part-time online, all contributing to fostering sustainable ecosystems.”

“The University of Edinburgh will collaborate with African partners such as University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and Makerere University, Uganda to identify and encourage students and to apply for the programme.”

“Fifty scholarships will also be offered to students from 10 African HEIs to undertake sustainability focussed doctoral studies.”

“Young people recruited into the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Edinburgh University will receive comprehensive support that includes a fully-funded scholarship to pursue one of the many postgraduate courses offered at the university. They will also be connected to a network of peers and experts, equipping them to drive positive, sustainable transformation throughout Africa.”

The importance and linkage of education to the development of any society cannot be over-emphasised. For a society to develop, education must be inclusive (including the physically challenged). “The Program will place a particular emphasis on recruiting young women, forcibly-displaced youth, and young people living with disabilities, with postgraduate students recruited from across the continent.”

“The Scholars Program will consist of three elements: full scholarships for sustainability-themed postgraduate taught courses at the University of Edinburgh; a digital education network to support African higher education institutions to develop online degree offerings; and the establishment of a collaborative doctoral training centre with the University of the Witwatersrand.”

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program aims to ensure access to education for bright young leaders who have a personal commitment to changing the world around them and improving the lives of others. “Since 2016, the University of Edinburgh’s partnership with The Mastercard Foundation has ensured access to education for bright young leaders who have a personal commitment to changing the world around them and improving the lives of others. A package of scholarships have benefitted 220 African students with significant academic and leadership potential but few educational opportunities with the chance to study at Edinburgh. Full scholarships have been offered to 80 undergraduate and 150 postgraduate African students in the last seven years.”

The Program has supported the education and leadership development of more than 45,000 young people, more than 70 per cent of whom are women, according to the organization’s website, it also provides financial, social, and academic support to Mastercard Scholars. Financial support includes, but is not limited to, tuition fees, accommodation, books, and other scholastic materials.

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