WE, a family of organizations that make doing good, doable, celebrates another major milestone in the organization’s almost 25-year history: the first WE College in the rural part of Kenya’s Narok County, which borders on the Maasai Mara.
WE began its partnership in the area in 1999, and through this 20-year collaboration, the WE College is a symbol of hope for the community, providing access to continued education opportunities for Narok County’s aspiring learners who currently represent less than one per cent of post-secondary students across Kenya.
Before the WE College was imagined, WE began its education programming in Kenya with a focus on primary schools. Through partnerships with local communities, WE was able to increase access to education by investing in infrastructure and resources. Done in tandem with the community, this work was instrumental in increasing students’ attendance, especially girls.
The growing attendance inspired WE and surrounding communities to open a secondary school, which quickly expanded into two campuses as a result of overwhelming demand. Many of the students at the college started primary school with WE, continued onto WE secondary schools, and are now studying to be the next generation of educators, engineers, nurses and more – a significant milestone as WE approaches its 25th anniversary as an organization.
“When WE began this journey almost twenty-five years ago, I never imagined that the movement would grow to include a college in the heart of the Maasai Mara,” said York Region’s Craig Kielburger, co-founder of WE. “After over thirteen years of partnering with Narok County and with support from Canadian schools, families and donors, we can now provide education opportunities at all levels – from primary, to secondary, to post-secondary. This is a tremendous milestone that will help build the next generation of educators, doctors, engineers and more.”
The ceremony brought together learners, community members as well as honourary guests from Canada and Kenya, including Former Prime Minister of Canada Kim Campbell; Celebrated Canadian, mental health advocate, author and mother of the current Prime Minister of Canada, Margaret Trudeau; and Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, The First Lady of the Republic of Kenya. Thousands of people from across the county made their way to the WE College for this memorable event complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a plaque reveal as well as special performances by Slum Drummers, WE’s All-Boys Secondary School and the WE College choir. As people gathered around the WE College, local and national dignitaries shared how the WE College will shape the future of Narok County, Kenya and beyond.
The WE College welcomed its first cohort students in 2017, offering aspiring students from the area the opportunity to develop theoretical and technical skills in two schools of study: Tourism & Hospitality, and Nursing. The inaugural cohort comprises all female learners, attending the College on full scholarship. For the first time, students from the surrounding area have the chance to pursue a world-class education at the WE College while remaining close to their friends, family and community.
“As I look at the WE College learners here today I see young empowered women dedicated to their education, their future and their community,” said Former Prime Minister of Canada, Kim Campbell. “Today’s ceremony celebrates many firsts – the first WE College, the first cohort to study at this world-class institution, the first time learners from the surrounding area can access higher education without needing to leave their home. I know there are many more firsts ahead for the members of Narok County.”
In its initial two years, the WE College will welcome over 100 learners. Once fully constructed over the next five years, the college will be a co-ed academic hub able to host hundreds of learners every year and offer programs in six faculties of study: Technical Studies, Public Health, Education, Medicine, Civil Engineering and Business and Technology. It’s a full-cycle for the organization, as the graduates from these programs will carry development in this rural region farther than we could ever imagine.
To learn more about the WE College, visit WE.org/we-movement/we-charity-impacts/.
Photo: WE co-founder Craig Kielburger along with many dignitaries take part in the ribbon cutting ceremony at WE’s first-ever WE College in Kenya’s Narok County. (CNW Group/WE Charity).