Q&A with president of Kwasa – an NGO that contributes to better education in Africa
Meet Robert Verboon, president of Kwasa, an NGO that supports local organizations in Africa. One of their focus points is getting people, young and old, an education. Robert and his team of volunteers dedicate a great deal of their lives to help individuals to grow out of poverty, and they do it with passion.
Better Awards was curious to find out why many Africans are deprived from education, what the hurdles are, and what Kwasa does to contribute to a better society?
Hi Robert, basic education is a right for all first-world children regardless of class or family income. Why is it so difficult for children in the rural areas of Africa to enjoy these same rights?
This is a question that’s hard to answer because it’s a combination of different factors that often make it impossible for children to attend school.
The reasons are as diverse as the problems, and also vary per country. But we generally notice is that it’s mostly a combination of too little (qualitative) supply of education by the government, and parents not giving enough priority or urgency to have their children educated due to cultural aspects or other reasons.
Often times it’s an economical decision, a child put to labor brings in direct income for the family while sending the child off to school only costs money in the short run. Child labor is often a necessary evil.
Kwasa focuses specifically on Africa, why is the need in Africa so particularly high?
In Africa there are multiple problems taking place at the same time.
Consequences from conflicts from the past, corruption, poor healthcare, food shortage, low employment rates, enormous cultural differences and many more things that I could add to the list.
Education is a fundamental cornerstone that should stand firm and be structured properly if a country wants to make progress. I’m convinced that good quality education can help Africa arise all of these problems.
What would Africa look like if all children had access to basic education?
It’s difficult to predict but wonderful to dream about. Africa is a huge continent with great potentional and it posseses many (natural) riches. With the right education many people of this continent could develop (non-corrupt) businesses. Education gives children positive future prospects, and hope.
Africa has the potential to flourish as it has never done before. It’s a snowball-effect; Better schooling attracts companies wanting to settle in Africa, which in return generates more work and more income, and evetually also leads to more spendings. Africa will become more self sufficient.
How could that impact the rest of the world?
Africa can become an interesting continent for the rest of the world to do business with and also for businesses to station there. Money will flow in not because of charity but because of healthy mutual relationships.
A (financially) stronger Africa will leave a positive impact to the rest of the world.
How does Kwasa help people in Africa to get educated?
We mainly focus on smaller individual projects. We give financial support to elementary schools and also to teenagers or older people who want to attend secondary school and university.
Our focus is to change the lives of individuals, one by one. By giving each of them financial support so that they can be send to a qualitative good school, we offer them a brighter future. A prospect they didn’t have before due to financial barriers.
Is there a story in particular that has touched you the most?
Siphesande was a girl who came from a small town in rural Africa, deprived from electricity and miles away from the nearest school. Her parents were unemployed and didn’t have the means to pay for Siphesande’s education. We at Kwasa gave her the financial support to help her finish secondary school and attend university in the big city. Without our help it would not have been possible for her to gain qualitative education.
When I personally met Siphesande for the second time, she had just started university. And at the end of our conversation she asked me if we could link up on Facebook, she wanted to give me updates on her studies.
The fact that she now has access to Facebook and considers it to be a way of life was enormously gratifying to me. We’ve helped her to get to a world where she hasa access to all of this information and communication possibilities that the internet offers. Now she’s a woman who has options in life and who can positively contribute to her community. Knowledge and connection is empowering.
Kwasa is currently seeking funds to extend the Mdumbi Education Center in South-Africa. The offer of schools (quanitity as well as quality) are very dissapointing. Since most of the parents never enjoyed education themselves they have no idea how low the level of education standard actually is and that their children have far more potential.
Thank you Robert and team Kwasa.
“I need scholarship simply because I want to empower myself so that I can empower my community in future” – Jay 27