By Benprince Ezeh
The Institute of International Education, IIE, and the Ford Foundation’s International Fellowships Programme, IFP, are partnering to train Africans on social justice. The fellowship is designed to educate the participants on the value and impact of fellowship programmes on marginalised communities.
The training is part of a 10-year alumni tracking study of the Ford Foundation’s IFP, the single largest programme commitment in its history, in which $420 million was invested. The fellowship titled: Transformational Leaders and Social Change: IFP Impacts in Africa and the Middle East provided important insights into the personal, organisational, community, and societal impacts of IFP alumni in Kenya, Nigeria, Palestine, and South Africa.
The group, in a report after its latest programme in Kenya on September 19, shared the perspectives of 361 IFP alumni and local stakeholders. In Kenya, the programme featured 126 fellows, 60 women and 66 men, pursuing degrees under the umbrella of social justice. 27 percent of participants took up studies in International Development, 21 percent Education, nine percent Public Health and eight percent Environmental Science.
According to the report, the programme has provided IFP alumni with important experiences of fairness in the socio-economic processes they had been through. For some, the experience opened their eyes to the fact that they had all along been victims of injustices. They however, have been able to leverage their strong individual voices into a strong, coherent collective voice, actively contributing to their communities in diverse ways, spaces and levels.
Maurice Makoloo, regional director for Eastern Africa, Ford Foundation, said this study confirms that when every person irrespective of their background is provided with as equal opportunity as the next person, they develop their talents to incredible high levels. He said the investment in these individuals have empowered them to make significant contributions to advance the society.
“In many cases, IFP Fellows were the first people in their families and local communities to obtain post-graduate degrees, and in some cases, to obtain any degree at all. Between 2001 and 2013, IFP opened pathways to higher education for 4,305 social justice leaders from the world’s most vulnerable populations in 22 countries in the developing world. Despite being from four different locations, the alumni share certain commonalities: past challenges stemming from discrimination and economic hardship, their dedication to social justice activism, and their commitment to IFP in their home communities,” he said.
On his part, Mirka Martel, head, research, evaluation and learning, IIE, said, “Our approach goes beyond the self-reported accounts of the programme beneficiaries, and goes directly to the communities that have been affected. Very few studies can present data from this perspective.”
A Nigerian alumna said, “I never thought I was supposed to have an education or even allow my daughter to have an education. I just thought that maybe when she finished secondary school, she will get married and she will be in her husband’s home. But my perspective had changed, today my daughter is a Ph.D. holder and she is a lecturer in the university.”
For Mohammed Bulle, an alumnus from Kenya, IFP has allowed him to have a more direct impact on Kenya’s food security policies through his work at the Agricultural Development Corporation, ADC. “IFP experience was inspiring. I will try my best to be fair, supportive, and professional with people as IFP was fair and supportive to me,” he said.
Overall, the programme showcases the crucial role alumni now play as models and mentors in their home communities as advocates for social justice. Results showed that this was especially true for female alumni where they were, many times, the first woman in their communities to have the opportunity to pursue their higher education goals.
– Sept. 26, 2018 @ 16:46 GMT |