Access to education reduces poverty and hardship; it boosts economic growth and income. Quality education has been proven to have a generational impact on low income families. It increases a person’s chances of living a healthy life, reduces maternal deaths, and leads to lower instances of diseases such as HIV and AIDS. Education impacts positively on issues such as gender equality and child marriage and through embracing diversity, promotes peace and understanding.
However, the cost of education is prohibitive in the countries Pestalozzi works with. Access to quality education especially in those subjects and specialisations which meet the needs of their most academically-able students is a daily struggle. Our high-achieving low income students need financial support and an environment that inspires and challenges them to enable them to reach their full potential.
Pestalozzi is able to provide this support and enrol students in local colleges so these academically-skilled young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are able to obtain an education that would not be possible without our assistance.
The students come to our multi-cultural, multi-faith community in the heart of the High Weald in East Sussex, where they learn to embrace diversity and welcome difference. They study A Levels at local colleges where they add significantly to the vibrancy and diversity of their cohort, sharing their cultures and beliefs and gaining skills, knowledge and personal qualities.
But education does not end with Pestalozzi, we select lifelong learners. The pathway to professional credentials makes full scholarships in Higher Education a goal for the majority of the students we work with. 73% of our students go on to obtain first degrees, 16% achieve Masters and 3% complete Phds. We support our students to apply for these scholarships and need to understand what the different universities are seeking and how to best explain the context of our students’ successes.
Ed Tourle, Head of Student Education, attended the (CIS) Council of International Schools Global Forum. He had the opportunity to explain how Pestalozzi supports students and network with fellow NGOs and admissions teams from universities around the world:
In a global market of increasing competition and expense in Higher Education, international networking opportunities are valuable. Full scholarships in Higher Education are hard won and central to Pestalozzi’s mission in providing educational pathways to impact vulnerable communities in the future.
As a first time attendee of the CIS Global Forum, I knew the conference was a superb opportunity to network with other like-minded organisations and to meet university representatives. It was well attended by 78 different countries ranging from the United States to Japan, and among those countries 447 University representatives from various higher education institutions were present.
During the two days in Edinburgh, the CIS put on more than 45 sessions on country/regional updates, tips, trends, best practices, and other professional development topics within the international admission and guidance arena. Networking sessions were also put on throughout with specific time allocated to school and university fairs.
The HALI Access Network is an association of organisations in Africa that work with high-achieving, low-income students to facilitate access to higher education opportunities. We advocate for increased inclusion, access and scholarships support to our students. The work HALI does has a connection with what we do at Pestalozzi. Here at Pestalozzi International Village Trust, in the UK we give scholarships to economically disadvantaged students from 9 countries enable them continue their educational journey.
I presented on a panel with two HALI Access Network colleagues, Emily Dickson, Assistant Director for Global Initiatives Office of Admissions and Recruitment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Joy Beth Bodie, College Counsellor and Student Advisor with Bridge 2 Rwanda.
Our session, titled HALI Access Network: Making your Institution Accessible to High Achieving Low-Income Students from the African Continent (and beyond) was essential in our journey to creating broader access to educational opportunities for the incredible students we serve.
Promoting Pestalozzi International Village Trust is so important at an event like this where many institutions with strong histories of success with other NGOs simply do not know about us. But we are just part of the picture and HALI Access Network is working hard collectively to create useful in country contacts, context and competitive cases for consideration. No more alliteration. I believe so strongly in what we do and the warmth, support and open appreciation of our journey is a reminder of what a wonderful field this is to work in.
Over the course of the week I discovered, amongst many other things, a range of new scholarships (8!) that I never knew existed and deeply insightful information on the admissions process at specific universities. We are plum in the middle of application season so the topic of current apps is fresh in everyone’s mind and advocacy in this wide family could happen on a very personal level. What a gift.
All present are focused on the creation of success in young lives, impact in a febrile world and future generations of people with the social responsibility to assert themselves creatively and productively in a market for which the jobs they are capable of mastering do not even exist yet. That is why I love this work and the students and professionals that I work with.
Much follow up to do now, to pass on the guidance, advice and revelations from a conference of profound and lasting impact. My sincerest thanks to CIS, HALI Access Network and Pestalozzi for making this possible.