Nicholas Drushella, International Development Manager at Imagine Scholar, spoke today about his work. Below are a few notes from his presentation:

  • For much of Africa, there has not been true sustainable change despite organizations flocking there to help over the past many years.
  • Imagine Scholar’s approach is based in entrepreneurship education.
  • South Africa is plagued with many problems throughout every system and infrastructure. It may look to be working from the surface, but on the ground for the people, it is not.
  • Prejudice and hatred still very much affect how the country is run today.
  • The South African area that Imagine Scholar works in is Nkomazi with a population of around 400,000 people. It is the gateway to South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
  • In Nkomazi, the HIV/AIDS rate is around 45%, which is one of the highest regional rates in the world. It affects everyone.
  • Only 6% of Nkomazi’s population have any form of higher education. There are no opportunities for people to change their life. The Education system for children is ranked at the bottom of the world. Teachers don’t show up or are not qualified to teach the subjects they are assigned. The goal is to get them through the final 12th grade exams…not real learning.
  • Imagine Scholar was born out of these dismal statistics and is for the students that really want reform, want opportunity, and are driven to learn and make a difference.
  • The Imagine Scholar program addresses critical thinking, character, communication, and community skills (the 4Cs). It was born around living in the community and learning how to help these kids in the midst of a very complex set of circumstances.
  • The students helped to define what they needed for success. The students select the next class of scholars. Empowerment is critical to the success of the program. Students are being trained to eventually take over the program and run it.
  • The graduates of the Imagine Scholar program have gone on to college, including doctoral programs, and are on their way down a path of becoming talented leaders who will make a real difference.

Nicholas has applied to be a Rotary Peace Fellow and will start at the University of Queensland in February 2017.

Please visit the Imagine Scholar website for more information and to get involved.