30 Apr, 2024

How Scholarships Help African Students go to College

How can young Africans maximise the vast investments in scholarships? In this blog, Joshua Opey discusses the issue of scholarships for young Africans and offers practical insights into applying for them.

How Scholarships Help African Students go to College Photo: prostooleh, Freepik.com

According to UNESCO, sub-Saharan Africa's gross tertiary enrollment average is 9.4%, far below the global average of 38%. Various factors, including financing, contribute to these low rates. With Africa's youthful population projected to continue growing, more efforts are needed to ensure all young people can access tertiary education.

Findings from ‘Young Africans Speak: Views on University Education and the Transition to Work from Ghana, Kenya and Uganda’ reveal the need for more equitable scholarship policies to be put in place to target students in need, helping more of them access higher education.  

Scholarships offer hope for many young Africans to pursue higher education. Annually, over $750 million is invested in scholarships for sub-Saharan African students. However, this investment has yet to significantly impact enrollment rates, as many young people lack awareness of available scholarships. Despite calls for increased funding, many still fail to seize these opportunities. 

In 2023, I got admission to pursue graduate studies at the University of Oxford, one of the world's top universities. Unfortunately, I couldn't meet the funding conditions. Through this experience, I discovered numerous scholarships for which I was eligible but hadn't applied because of unawareness. Many others find themselves in similar situations. 

So, how can young Africans like me find suitable scholarship opportunities? There are numerous resources to leverage, such as online scholarship databases. Since discovering the African Scholarship Hub, I've realised the value of these databases. The African Scholarship Hub features scholarship opportunities from across the world, targeting young people from sub-Saharan Africa just like me. All the same though, using databases can be challenging due to outdated or non-existent listings. It's crucial to find databases with up-to-date information, especially for African scholarships. 

Additionally, many young people miss out on scholarships due to feelings of inferiority or inability to craft compelling narratives in their applications. Platforms like YouTube and LinkedIn offer valuable resources. Prospective applicants can connect with past beneficiaries on LinkedIn for guidance. Crafting a compelling narrative, especially using the STAR approach (Situation, Task, Action, Results), is crucial for success, particularly for leadership-focused scholarships. 

Finally, make use of online resources, ranging from information sessions to insights from past beneficiaries. The scholarship search can be daunting, with many learning curves. Rejection is common, but it often inspires new strategies. If you feel inadequate, remember that education aims to help us grow and become our best selves. 



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