The United Nations unveiled in 2015 some 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), essentially comprising a set of global commitments to end poverty and ensure prosperity for all by 2030.
Education is critical in attaining these goals. It empowers people and communities to break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and is a powerful catalyst for social change.
As Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”
Moreover, education is a fundamental human right. Kenyafor instance has adopted several international treaties protecting the right to education. Similarly, the Constitution provides that every child has a right to free and compulsory basic education. Youth also have a right to education and training that is relevant to their life needs.
As noted by Unesco, education is “both a goal in itself and a means to attaining all other SDGs”. It is thus an enabler of development. Education is identified as one of the SDGs, No. 4, which aspires to “ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning”.
Access to quality education is a key first step in transforming the lives of individuals and communities.
It simply means that every child attends school and has an equal opportunity to succeed. But education is not an end in itself; emphasis should be on creating “lifelong learning” opportunities. Education should aim for the full development of the human personality.
We must also strive to develop positive personal attributes such as discipline, honesty, empathy, resilience and self-reliance.
Promoting access to holistic learning opportunities for all is vital. As a nation, we have a duty to shape our children into adults who not only excel academically, but are also capable of imparting a positive legacy to society.
This requires creating opportunities skewed to nurturing positive aspects. It also entails equipping learners with life skills that are not necessarily taught in schools including financial literacy, decision-making, career planning and entrepreneurship.
Mentorship should be an integral component of our education system. It is, however, not just about exposing children to role models for inspiration.
The over-arching goal of mentorship should be to equip children with vital life skills. We must ensure that all our children and youth are equipped with relevant skills to shape them into well-rounded, versatile and responsible individuals.
This approach is evident in a scholarship and mentorship programme supported by the Family Group Foundation, an initiative of Family Bank and its affiliate companies.
The mentorship programme is aimed at nurturing model citizens capable of transforming communities. So far, over 400 young people from all the 47 counties have benefited from the programme.
The foundation has so far invested Sh238 million in the initiative.
The foundation plans to increase its financial commitment and pursue strategic partnerships with like-minded actors. We have set aside Sh300 million to support the mentorship programme over the next two years. We are keen on making a lasting contribution to Kenya’s quest to realise its commitments under the global SDG framework, especially in education.
We all need to support initiatives that propel us on the path to achieving quality, inclusive education for all, while also providing holistic learning opportunities as envisioned in SDG #4.