EDUCATING AFRICA Awards - winners 2007

1st Prize: Eco-Friendly Business Education
Akwany Leonard, Ecofinder Youth Movement, Kenya

Leonard Omondi Akwany, founder of Eco-finders Youth Movement was the 1st place prize-winner of the 2007 Pan-African Prize for Entrepreneurial Teachers.  Akwany has been working in the poorest regions of Kenya since 1995 seeking to promote “environmental entrepreneurship.” 

Since receiving last year’s award, Akwany has been able to move Eco-finders forward in many different ways and has high hopes for the future of his organization.  Akwany describes that his work has been affected in three fundamental ways since receiving this award. 

Firstly, he was able to attend an international school sufficient conference in Asuncion, Paraguay focusing in “Education that Pays for Itself.”   Through the connections made and resources learned at the conference, Akwany has been able to do a number of different things including mobilizing resources, replicating new ideas, and arranging financial resources for capacity enhancement. 

Secondly, Akwany was able to invest award money in his Master of Science fieldwork in Malawi.  This fieldwork involved research and working with poorest villages in Malawi on the topic of “Water Footprint and Trade-off of Biofuels.” 

Lastly, the award money bought equipment and materials for Dunga Village Agroforestry Learning and Resource Center in Kisumu, Kenya.  This facility serves as training and demonstration site for villages and schools on the best agroforestry practices and serves as an income generating enterprise for the young people involved. 

In the immediate future, Akwany plans to involve more schools in the self-sufficient movement and to promote entrepreneurial ideas among wetland villagers, enabling wetland biodiversity conservation and livelihood security.

2nd Prize: Satellite Farms for Schools
Pamela  Akinyi  Nyagilo, Ojere Primary School, Kenya

Pamela Akinyi Nyagilo, who received second place in last year’s competition, has been teaching her Kenyan students to cultivate indigenous vegetables since 2003.  The sustainability of the project lies in the harvesting of seeds from the school farm and sowing them into their home farms; this method has radically reduced malnutrition in the area.

The students at Ojere Primary School are also learning to breed their family’s hens with purebred cocks, to produce high value products that are sold to local hotels for a profit, which in turn buys educational materials.

She has put the well-earned prize money to good use by purchasing a laptop and a printer for the school. The conference opened her eyes to the value of using the Internet as a resource beyond its practical uses for communicating. She now utilizes the Internet for research and for updating the school’s learning materials, which she now can print off for each of her students.

The remaining money has allowed for an expansion of the chicken project as well as financed Pamela’s classes on Global Education at the university. Their immediate goals are to create a computer literacy program, specifically targeting local dropouts, with the target of enabling youth to become self-sufficient.

In addition, she plans on using the Internet as mechanism to draw attention to the many HIV/AIDS orphans living in their community because they are currently receiving no intervention from NGO’s or the government due to their remote location.

3rd Prize: Turning Waste into Gold
Atanga Martin Tabifor, Paradise On Earth, Cameroon

Another man’s trash is literally another man’s treasure at Paradise On Earth where last year’s 3rd place winner Atanga Martin is leading the way in recycling community waste.

This entrepreneurial organization transforms waste into profit in the form of products such as furniture, ornaments, building materials, and of course, fertilizer.

In doing so, it has supported the community to improve its health and sanitation problems, created jobs, and blazed the trail for a sustainable future for the impoverished community.

Atanga would never allow for waste, and this is to be said of how he has capitalized on the award money received. He has used it to buy a vehicle to collect waste and transport workers to distant places which doubled their work zone, increased full time employees from 14 to 30, employed over 50 students during holidays, and added more training programmes such as tree nursery improvement, waste tyre management techniques, and bee keeping.

The utilization of tyres as an aid to crop cultivation is a practical and low cost way to achieve higher yields with limited manure/compost. Nutrients are concentrated to one plant, protecting its roots against mechanical damage, and need for watering is minimized - particularly valuable when there is water scarcity.

Paradise on Earth have also increased their airtime in 3 radio stations, and have plans to increase that to 6 stations. Their goals for the immediate future are to construct a permanent office and workshop and intensify their teaching plans on a wide range of economic activities based on environmental and nature protection.

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