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Mastercard Foundation commits $650m to Africa Confirms Ms. Ivy Mwai

By the Indepenent Team

The MasterCard Foundation has set aside $500 million for education initiative and financial inclusion programs for Sub-Saharan Africa. How much of this money is earmarked for Uganda and how much of it has been utilized?

The MasterCard Foundation has exceeded its original commitment of $500 million for the Scholars Program and has actually committed almost $650 million.  Within Uganda, we have committed $67.6M and have disbursed $20.4M.

Beyond the Scholars Program, the Foundation has also committed a little over $6 million to improve access to quality education, teacher training and skills-building as part of its involvement with the Partnership to Strengthen Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education.

This Program is set to end in 2020; will it be extended beyond that period?

We’re excited that The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program will be expanding beyond 2020.  The Foundation will be expanding its reach across the African continent, focusing on disciplines and conditions relevant to Africa’s growth. Some of these include agriculture; engineering; entrepreneurship; transformative leadership aimed at addressing inequity and influencing positive change in Scholars’ communities; transitions to employment through entrepreneurship and skills-building; and building a community of next-generation leaders.

What challenges has the Foundation faced, if any, in the implementation of its programs in Uganda?

The first year of the Scholars Program implementation is always a learning year, so we did not actually encounter any unexpected challenges.  The Foundation works very closely with our partners to identify any challenges, new learning and best practices that enables them to adjust or improve programs as they progress.

BRAC is primarily a financial inclusion outfit, what motivated the Foundation in choosing BRAC as it lead partner is the education sector?

The MasterCard Foundation places great value on its partnership with BRAC. BRAC is able to mobilize an extensive network of staff throughout the country to generate awareness of the Scholars Program, support applications, assist with the selection of Scholars and provide them with the support they need.  Above all, BRAC was selected because they share a common vision with the Foundation – to help communities achieve transformative change.

How has The MasterCard Foundation leveraged its position to push for education financing reforms in Uganda? Do you think higher-education funding in Uganda is sufficient, and if not, what should be done outside philanthropy?

The MasterCard Foundation believes that all young people, no matter their starting point in life, should have an equal chance to obtain a quality education and pursue their aspirations.  While education financing reforms are important, the Foundation has focused its attention on improving access to quality secondary and higher education and increasing the relevance of education through leadership and business development skills.

Since 2012, 5,000 students have benefited from the generosity and support of The MasterCard Foundation scholarships. Are you happy with this figure? Could you have achieved more?

Since 2012, we have enrolled 16,248 young people in The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program.  About 6,000 of these bright Scholars will be young people studying in Uganda.

With the expansion of the Scholars Program, we aim to double the number of bright, yet economically disadvantaged young people who will create change that matters within their communities and usher in a new era of inclusive prosperity in Africa and beyond.

Upon what criteria do you select a student as qualifying for a scholarship?

MasterCard Foundation partners manage the recruitment process and Scholars must first meet criteria outlined by universities and secondary school partners.  But aside from meeting partner criteria, MasterCard Foundation Scholars are bright, promising young leaders from economically disadvantaged communities who aspire to have a positive social impact on their communities.

Do you have any special gender considerations in your selection criteria?

Educating women can benefit entire families – that’s why about 67 percent of the Scholars in the Program’s first phase will be girls and young women.  Aside from our focus on girls’ education, there are no special gender considerations in our selection criteria.

Lastly, why do you fund only tertiary education? Would you consider expanding your Program to include providing scholastic materials and other non-tuition requirements to pupils in primary schools?

The international community has made great strides to improving access to primary school education around the globe, including Africa.  Secondary education – the next major hurdle to education – is a critical step in a young person’s journey to higher education or the workforce.

Most MasterCard Foundation Scholars are actually studying at the secondary level: 65 percent of the total number of scholarships are for secondary students and 35 percent are for university students.

How do you evaluate your success or failure and how would The MasterCard Foundation like to be remembered years from today?

The MasterCard Foundation would like to be remembered as an organization that worked to build a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper, that believes that all people, no matter their starting point in life, should have an equal chance to succeed.

Ultimate success would be achieved by helping economically disadvantaged young people in Africa find opportunities to move themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty to a better life.

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