The African Women’s Education Terror Antidote

Despite a certain degree of activism by some women leaders in the wake of the recent kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in northeast Nigeria, the progress of girls’ education across Africa still lags behind that of boys at all levels and is particularly bleak at the postgraduate level.

Read my latest blog post for the Huffington Post, The African Women’s Education Terror Antidote (published May 16, 2014). Visit link

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video: AAHEP answers questions from Masters and PhD programs applicants in Kenya

Africa America Higher Education Partnerships (AAHEP) continues to expand and grow in a process that includes an ongoing dialogue with young African women scientists. This video captures a moment in the long journey. It demonstrates the enthusiasm and energy that African women have, as well as the originality of their thoughts. These young women have so much energy and originality of thought that, if properly captured, nurtured and harnessed, they present incredible possibilities for Africa and the world. AAHEP is fully engaged in that effort and welcomes one and all to join us in our effort.

Please share this video by moving your cursor over the video and clicking “Share.” AAHEP thanks you.

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Reception: CSU’s Department of Engineering/AAHEP (Africa America Higher Eductaion Partnerships)

Since its inception, AAHEP has had significant success assisting African women of science obtain placement in PhD programs in Colorado universities. In the process AAHEP has developed connections and relationships among Colorado universities. It is a process that has slowly been taking place across the US, where AAHEP is creating bonds for future African women PhD scholars. Each university has expressed the mutual relationships in its own unique way. In CSU, AAHEP has found a great partner. As an expression of that partnership the Department of Mechanical Engineering hosted a reception for AAHEP on September 21st, 2011.  It was a reception attended by CSU students, and teaching staff as well as the Front Range community.

Dr. Susan James, Head of CSU’s department of Mechanical Engineering and AAHEP Board member conversing with CSU professors and D. Pius Kamau, the President of AAHEP

Florence Mbithi, AAHEP’s scholar at the University of Denver’s School of Engineering, talks to Anita Sanborn, a AAHEP Board member and President of Colorado Episcopal Foundation

Florence Mbithi discussing her experience in the US with CSU’s Professor Bryan Willson and Dr. Miranda

Dr. Susan James explains the developing relationship between the department of Mechanical Engineering and AAHEP as Dr. Pius Kamau listens intently

 

Anita Sanborn, President of the Colorado Episcopal Foundation (COEF) and Board member of AAHEP explains how her Foundation supports African women’s education. Additionally COEF has been extensively involved with the local Sudanese community

Dr. Pius Kamau, President of AAHEP is grateful and happy for the hospitality shown by CSU and the Department of Mechanical Engineering

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watch our video about AAHEP

Watch video of Africa America Higher Education Partnerships (AAHEP) at work with education experts at our African university partners. It is our mission to provide African females the opportunity to pursue Ph.D degrees with a significant component of leadership training in America; this video gives a glimpse of that mission in action.

Please share this video by moving your cursor over the video and clicking “Share.” AAHEP thanks you.

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About our work

Want to be inspired? Just spend a few minutes with Pius Kamau, the founder of Africa America Higher Education Partnerships (AAHEP), and you will be struck by his quiet but committed drive to develop partnerships between African and American institutions of higher learning. Like so many others who became founding members of the AAHEP Board, I am inspired by him to join in this effort to open up advanced educational opportunities for African women. We are a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds drawn together by this simple and daunting mission.

To paraphrase a saying attributed to a 12 year old South African lad, Nkosi Johnson, when dying of AIDS: “Do what you can, with what you have, in the place where you are.” There are many things each one of us can choose to do to enhance global understanding, to improve the distribution of resources, and to make the world better for the next generation. I can think of no worthier cause than to assist women in Africa in attaining the highest levels of proficiency in their chosen field of study. Why? Because women “hold up half the sky” and women bring others along with them. They influence family systems, community systems and on up the ladder of social structures. Not every woman will become an Edith Sirleaf-Johnson (President of Liberia) or a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate like Wangaari Maathai from Kenya. However, investing in educating women and offering them opportunities for leadership development will surely lead to improved functions in all levels of society.

My own interest is in connecting leadership development practices with the academic experiences AAHEP students will engage in. Having worked with many aspiring leaders in the world’s newest nation, The Republic of South Sudan, I am convinced that an essential part of partnering with African institutions and civil society structures is to address the issue of leadership.

Leadership is not just an inborn quality of charisma, it is a practice of living out one’s values, being transparent, and being able to utilize a set of skills and methods to strengthen the ability of others to achieve their goals. So AAHEP seeks to involve its partners and participants in building capacity in this very critical area.

I am excited about our work and invite you to join us.

Anita Sanborn
President
Colorado Episcopal Foundation

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More Ph.Ds equals less violence

I have an equation that states that the more female Ph.Ds you have in a given community, the less the violence in the community. And vice versa. As societies develop and we create more opportunities for women to attain Ph.Ds it seems the violent tendency among their men is neutralized: by women’s education, women’s wisdom, leadership and the ability to pour balm over incendiary situations. It is also instructing that whenever evil men acquire power and take over civil societies, the first thing they do is destroy academic institutions, rape educated women and kill the enlightened segments of their societies.

From my observation, wherever you have a large concentration of women Ph.Ds the less the violence one encounters in that society. Places across Africa where violence against women is rampant have one thing in common: women’s education is dismal. It would thus seem the solution to violence against women is education. That is one of the objectives of Africa America Higher Education Partnerships (AAHEP): to promote women’s education and thus lessen violence against women.

Each woman Ph.D brings with her a multiplier effect of wellness, progress and peace to her community and to Africa.

Educating women to the highest possible level means that we are also educating the whole extended family and by extension her clan and part of her immediate tribe. By educating a large group of Ph.Ds, as is AAHEP’s aim, each additional woman Ph.D brings with her a multiplier effect of wellness, progress and peace to her community and to Africa. That I believe is reason enough to train 50 women Ph.Ds in the next few years. I believe too that you scale that up by several factors if you had 100 women Ph.Ds.

But we have set ourselves and the female scholars of AAHEP a more difficult task. We want them to do their Ph.Ds in the hard sciences: engineering, chemistry, mathematics, and agronomy, climatology — that will be involved in Africa’s evolution.

We also posit that man’s shortcoming is his lack of imagination. If we imagine greatness, we can show them that given their intellectual brilliance they are best placed to be the natural leaders of their communities. Given that then, and if they can take the challenge seriously, Africa will be on a win-win position.

Anyone who cares to see Africa progress, from being the world’s sick man to a vibrant place of peace and progress, will join with AAHEP to develop the most dynamic science and leadership challenge for our scholars as possible. It is only by challenging people that they realize they have a god-like potential. Women naturally have blinders that prevent them from realizing that they are not women but amazing giants of indomitable power.

AAHEP scholars are challenged to become the best teachers of their academic institutions; institutions that we expect will play an active role in their communities in particular and Africa in general.

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My grandmother, clan leader

Women are Africa’s leaders. Or in a more universal sense, women are humanity’s leaders though you would not believe it looking at the world and the way most tribes and societies treat women. This is done willfully by men who form gangs and groups that make certain women are not effective leaders. There of course are some few exceptions; but they merely go to prove the rule of man’s domination — quite often by force and violence. Such an exception was my grandmother, a slight, short woman, who didn’t say much but when she did, it was always something of gravity, some wisdom or some instruction that everyone paid attention to. Indeed my father and other men paid heed to grandmother’s words; listening to her with close attention and often doing what she advised. This in a tribe where men were regarded as better and superior to women.

Like my grandmother, her peers and her daughters raised African nations.

It is with grandmother’s words of wisdom in mind that I have struggled to build on a dream of creating Africa America Higher Education Partnerships (AAHEP), an organization that will allow her voice to pass on to a new generation of women. I believe that African women, despite archaic and illogical tribal beliefs, are the proper leaders of the African family, clan, and tribe. They are the keepers of the tribe’s traditions, those who watch the rise and fall of their children and their tribe’s fortunes. It’s their tears that water the tribe’s tree as it grows, whose sorrow watches as the tribe’s men are cut down by wars, who bury their dead children and remind their men folk when the tribe loses its direction. They are the unsung heroines.

Like my grandmother, her peers and her daughters held families together, and raised African nations. They have been, in their quiet but energetic and forceful way, the real leaders of Africa. At AAHEP we want to raise our communal voices and say that the heroine, one that, if she holds onto the staff of leadership, will lead Africa to prosperity and a bright future. We want our scholars to realize and acknowledge their leadership role — probably not of clans or tribes — but of a new energetic and technologically savvy Africa. Equipped with this knowledge, a science Ph.D, a woman’s intuition and wisdom and the places where they properly belong, AAHEP scholars we believe will be tomorrow’s Africa’s leaders.

My grandmother had a Ph.D in psychology of tribal customs and environmental health. She was a voice of moderation and gentle wisdom. It’s this wisdom, to nurture all, to take all of Africa’s children as their own that we hope AAHEP scholars will embrace. For our part, we who oversee the running of AAHEP promise to do everything we can to support these women — tomorrow’s African leaders.

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