The question for every child in Rwanda to consider is “How will you play a role in Africa’s future?”
This is exactly what members of the African Leadership Academy Selection Committee sought to determine from the sixteen Rwandan and three Burundian shortlisted as finalists from over 40 Rwanda & Burundi applicants who applied to Africa’s most selective secondary school. Due to confidentiality agreements and rule of law, the names of the finalists have not been revealed.
On 1 May, 2010, the Dean of African Leadership Academy, Chris Khaemba, and Ivy Mwai, Director of Admissions, structured a day-long interview process at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), Remera Campus, that challenged some of Rwanda’s brightest youth to think quickly and analytically as a carefully selected team of observers from Rwanda gave feedback to help determine who will represent Rwanda at the Academy in August 2010.
African Leadership Academy (ALA) has already been deemed as the Pan-African school that shall develop the next generation of African leaders. But even as you read this, some of you may ask yourself just what this organization is. Be at a loss no longer.
The African Leadership Academy opened in September 2008, bringing together the most promising 16-19 year olds leaders from all 54 African nations for an innovative two-year program designed to prepare each student for a life-time of leadership on the Continent.
The school was founded in 2004 by Fred Swaniker, Chris Bradford, Peter Mombaur, and Acha Leke, and began with a pilot summer program in 2005 that by 2008 had successfully trained 500 leaders from 40 countries.
This milestone led to co-founders, Fred Swaniker and Chris Bradford, being selected in June 2006 as two of the “15 best emerging social entrepreneurs in the world” by the Echoing Green Fellowship Program.
The state-of-the-art boarding school is located in Honeydew, between Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa and is a wireless campus in which every young leader attending receives a laptop to facilitate their studies in the most rigourous and specialized curriculum that exists to date in the African continent.
Boasting an average class size of 12, a 6:1 student-to-teacher ratio, and a 5% acceptance rate, the African Leadership Academy ranks globally alongside Phillips Andover, Juliard, the Wharton School, SOS-HGIC International School, Cambridge, and others as highly selective educational institutions generating the leaders of tomorrow.
English is the language of instruction and the school also offers Swahili, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French and English as second languages and the school provides a broad spectrum of courses with the Cambridge International “A” levels as the academic base and the unique Leadership, Entrepreneurship and African studies programme.
The school welcomes guests like Desmond Tutu and Kofi Annan to speak to the youth who visit because they believe something very special is happening for Africa at the idyllic ALA campus.
Many students wait to find out who will be among the first to represent Rwanda as this is the inaugural year in which the admissions office entered Rwanda.
They are right to look on with anticipation, because the proof of ALA is in their results. Already, 65 of the 100 students in the first graduating class have already received acceptance letters from universities in the United States, including institutions like Yale, MIT, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and Harvard University.
More wait to hear from institutions around the world. ALA students have placed first within South Africa in a number of academic subjects and ranked within the top five globally in specific Cambridge A-level examinations like English and Mathematics.
Rwanda is on the rise, and because of sound leadership, the doors have been opened for African Leadership Academy to begin recruiting the stars who shall shine brightly for Africa.
One finalist noted, “I want to write my name into the minds of Africans around the world.” Another explained that what Africa needs is a key to open the door to better opportunities and that as a leader, he seeks to be the key.
While statements like that, these children are ready to join the likes of William Kwamkwamba of Malawi, the 22-year old ALA graduating senior who won international acclaim for building windmills in his village to electrify it, at the age of 14. While his community faced drought, William went to the library after being kicked out of school because his family of farmers had a weakened harvest and could not afford the $80 school fees.
The library armed him with a book that inspired him to change the world in which he lived. He did just that and since then has gone on to not only teach others to build windmills in Malawi, but he has also written a book as well as engaged notables like the Soros Foundation to consider future projects focusing on alternative energy and sustainable development in Africa.
William is amazing, but he is not the only extraordinary story of genius that reaches the ALA campus. Former Sudanese refugee, Arkanjelo Paul Lorem, Zimbabwean entrepreneur, Belinda Sheillah Munemo, Moroccan actor, Mehdi Oulmakki, Ethiopian activist, Dawit Bekele Mekonnen, Kenyan social entrepreneur, Tabitha Tongoi, and the Senegalese phenom, Fatou Binetou Fall, are all names known throughout the African continent and the world for their individual success stories that continue to develop through the African Leadership Academy experience.
As ALA comes to Rwanda, it is time for Rwanda to bring to ALA the determination of a country poised to represent Africa as a story of triumph, rebirth, and discipline championed by an inspirational leader.
This is the call to educators, parents, and most importantly to the youth of Rwanda to inform yourselves about the African Leadership Academy in preparations for the next admissions cycle, which will begin later in 2010.
Join the 2010 African Leadership Academy finalists in their excitement and prepare to congratulate the blessed bunch who will forward to South Africa.
To find out more about African Leadership Academy, please visit the official website at www.africanleadershipacademy.org or email the admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org with any relevant questions on the application process.
To the youth, now is the time, so carpe diem (“seize the day”).
The author is a long-standing supporter of the African Leadership Academy and a member of the 2010 ALA Selection Committee for Rwanda.