In Nyanja, one of Zambia's many local languages, "nyali" means light. AEP's scholarships have represented light during times of darkness for so many young people who otherwise would not have been able to continue their education. Over 2600 scholarships have been awarded to date, enabling hundreds to graduate from high school and over 70 to complete college. This year, scholarships represent a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel. Help us award 25 high school scholarships in 2021.
COVID-19 has only exacerbated young Zambians' access to quality education. Access to school and proficiency levels were already poor and now school drop-out and teenage pregnancy rates are on the rise. Zambia's economy had already been struggling for years and the country is now the first African nation to default on its debt in the Covid-19 era. The pandemic has only compounded the situation. Families can not afford mandatory school fees that begin in the 8th grade for Zambian youth.
Scholarships allow girls and boys to continue their education in schools, creating a base for the leadership development, innovation, academic support, and healthy living programs we offer at our educational resource center. AEP's approach combines scholarships to public school and after-school programs focused on self-esteem building and critical thinking so that our young people can discover their own unique gifts and talents enabling them to take this first step out of poverty.
Zambia is a country of young people, with the majority of the population under the age of 18. The future lies literally in their hands. AEP's work makes changing the narrative of poverty possible by empowering the girls and boys in the program with the knowledge and opportunities they need to reach their full potential and become agents of change for their families, communities, and nation. AEP's impact is seen in the high passing rates on national exams and with more students in college now.