Every charity or business starts with a moment of revelation. For the two founders and brothers of Brothers4Change, it came on holiday in Soweto, South Africa. Confronted with the uncomfortable truth of poverty, they were determined to make a difference.
Using their prior experience in retail, they connected shopping with giving. 10% of every purchase would go towards a good cause.
But they faced a problem. How could they help the children they had seen in South Africa. What would make the biggest impact in that community and others?
The answer came from another South African native. Nelson Mandela famously once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
With that message, they set out three primary goals to make education more accessible:
- Build new school facilities
- Provide fresh, clean drinking water to school children
- Donating solar LED lamps: these solar LED lamps make it possible for children to develop new skills, learn and read after the sunset.
The result is that the doors of education have opened to hundreds of children.
But were the brothers, right? Is funding for education the best way to help those in need?
Education in Africa: The Facts
According to UNESCO, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of education exclusion worldwide. Over one-fifth of children aged 6 to 11 do not go to school, followed by one-third of 12- to 14-year-olds. And amongst 15- to 17-year-olds, as many as 60% never attend school.
The result has been steady but uneven development.
While some parts of the continent have been pulling away, others are wholly left behind. Nor are the benefits being distributed evenly. Amongst the poorest, education remains a luxury. And even those children who enjoy the privilege often do so in inadequate conditions.
UNESCO lists a lack of basic school amenities, such as electricity, potable water, and classroom sizes as fundamental stumbling blocks to change.
To put the problem in a global perspective: 67 million children worldwide do currently not have access to basic education.
It’s time for change.
What’s the long-term difference from education?
As Habitat for Humanity writes, “In countries where fewer than 20% of children enrol in secondary education, it is difficult to imagine how social progress can be sustained without educated citizens.”
For education doesn’t just teach science, literature, and maths. It also teaches values, helping children participate in their community, and more broadly in democracy. It empowers.
No longer should roughly 90 million African teenagers need to struggle to find work in low-paid, physically demanding jobs.
It should be obvious that to develop; you first need to invest.
That previously led to misspent resources. Rather than investing in stopgap measures, education makes a lasting impact. Aside from reducing inequality, education fuels stability. The more skills a population has, the more adaptable they become. No longer lurching from crisis to crisis, famine to drought, but rather building steadily for the future.
As the old saying goes, “knowledge is power.”
By investing in children’s education, Brothers4Change is giving power to the people so that they have the tools to shape their own destinies.