First winner of AfDB Women’s Scholarship Fund pursuing Communication Science studies in Abidjan

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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is with these words from the late Nelson Mandela that the first laureate of the African Development Bank Women’s Scholarship Fund (WSF), Jeanne Dina Kitoko, expressed gratitude to the Bank for enabling her to pursue higher studies.

Jeanne Dina Kitoko of Chad won the Bank’s scholarship in March 2015 and the announcement was made on the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2015 in Abidjan. In November 2015, she enrolled at the Catholic University of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, where she is pursuing her studies in Communication Science. “The course in Communication Science has changed my life,” she said during a recent interview.

“When you educate a woman or a girl, you educate a generation,” one of her mentors, the Chair of the AfDB WSF Committee, Zéneb Touré added.

The selection of Jeanne Dina Kitoko as the first WSF laureate was made based on the following rigorous criteria:

Selection of the zone in the continent: The WSF candidates are selected by rotation of geographical zones in alphabetical order: Central Africa, Eastern Africa, Northern Africa, Southern Africa and Western Africa. The first zone selected is Central Africa.

Selection of the country: The first country selected is the one with the lowest enrollment ratio of women in high school. In Central Africa, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2012 report indicated that Chad has one of the lowest percentages of female students enrolled in tertiary (15%) education. The country also records the highest school dropout rate in Africa. On this basis, Chad was selected as the first beneficiary country.

Selection of the candidate at country level: The selection of the candidate at the country level is done in collaboration with the Bank Field Office, the Government and partners in the education sector in the country. The WSF Committee set up a Committee alongside the field office comprising representatives from the country’s Gender Ministry, the Ministry in charge of Education, the Ministry in charge of Social Affairs, the NGO Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE)/Chad, and an umbrella of women’s associations in Chad. The Committee analyzed the records of the girls/women admitted to the Bachelor’s degree in 2014 and made a list of women admitted in order of merit.  On the basis of the shortlist, the Committee selected a young woman whose parents have income below or equal to the minimum wage.

Jeanne indicated that she was very pleased to be in Abidjan and to have the support and mentoring of those people at the African Development Bank who helped make her dream a reality.

AfDB’s Women’s Scholarship Fund (WSF) was initiated by the AfDB Women Network in 2011 and designed as a channel to allow Bank staff to contribute to the development of the continent and the empowerment of women, particularly through access to higher education. The WSF aims to support the Bank’s efforts to promote inclusive growth, but also to respond to the challenges posed by gender inequality in Africa.

The WSF is managed by a team of AfDB volunteers.

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