Teaching is an amazing field that I loved working in. The chubby smiles and faces with sparkling eyes full of hope staring at you everyday. It takes a heart that cares to transform lives no matter what the circumstances are. I recall some of the personal experiences that touched my heart every year with some of my students. Every day after extra lessons we would unintentionally find ourselves talking about issues  that troubled them internally. Listening to their struggles and assisting in any way we knew giving the students hope to hold on.

I found myself being a counsellor, a listener and mentor without qualifications. One outstanding matric class of 2012 still amazes me. Most of my students came from very poor backgrounds and were struggling a lot with fees, but Of all 3 matric classes we had, they were the best in all subjects, including  mathematics, english and science. No one can imagine the joy, pride and excitement I felt every prize giving day for that year.

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Not everyone in Africa gets the joy of graduating university!

Exam time came and we had 53 bachelors out of 70 students that were set for exams. Sadly, only 15 of the 53 managed to make it to university. The rest could not afford university fees and neither could their families. Had I a blossoming bank account, I would have wiped all their sorrows away an helped them with their fees. .Alas I was just their humble teacher had nothing but myself to offer and echoes of my comforting words sinking deep in their hearts. None of them ever saw university doors.With a heavy heart I still keep touch with some of them. In different directions where they shouldn’t be life has taken them. The guilt I carry every time I see them rips me apart.”Is that all I could do” I still ask my self.

It is a plight that occurs in many places across the continent. Africa is missing a trick by letting its best students, at every level, slip through the cracks, and fall out of the educational system. The African Institute for Mathematical Science is trying hard to make sure the brightest students get the best education possible, from the best professors, without leaving the continent, but these options are only available for a select few. How do excellent students, who don’t quite make the high standards of AIMS find scholarships  to enable them to utilise their excellence? AIMS also put on the Next Einstein Forum, which we covered in three blogs:

Did you know the next Einstein will be an African?
Did You Know Einstein like brains are enabling African innovation?
Did You Know there are too many NEF innovations to fit in one blog?

ScholarX created in Nigeria, is one innovation that aims to make it easier for students to find scholarships. It is a social enabling technology that focuses on providing access to free education funding in forms of scholarships for deserving youths in villages towns and cities. It serves as a hub for information, accessible to the youth in communities through assistance of a panel of local experts from serial entrepreneurs, info-tech and many more who play a major role of ensuring the information is accurate, valid and scholarships sourced are of good quality.

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Once downloaded it directs students to supply required information such as their school, the college they desire, reasons they need funding/how much and automatically with just a click, it gives a list of scholarships students can choose from that also matches their qualifications. It is very simple to use and should enable students to find the scholarships that they are best suited for.

ScholarX does not only assist with access to scholarships, but it has bridged the gap of technology accessibility and usage in towns and villages. One of  its features include village, which is used by students from villages.

There Village app enables people to sponsor a student through crowdfunding. All required information about any child is provided within the app-from the schools they have attended, which courses they need sponsorship in, their beautiful faces and the amount needed. It becomes very easy for any one as a result, to become part of this positive change  created by this app, to many amazing students with lots of potential and so much unwrapped talents, if they can be given a chance.

Thank you to Lireko Faku, who is the newest addition to the Inventive Africa team. This is the first of many blogs from her on innovation in Africa. Lireku is from Lesotho, and based in Johannesburg. As a former teacher, she is particularly interested in innovation that makes a change in the educational sector. Being in South Africa, she surrounded by incredible innovation and, as well as contributing to the blog by writing about amazing innovations from across the continent, she will interview various South African innovators for the blog.

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