Blue Ventures launches a fundraising campaign to support 200 scholars in southwest Madagascar

21st May 2013, London - Blue Ventures launches a fundraising campaign with the aim of supporting 200 bright young people in Velondriake, southwest Madagascar, to attend school throughout the next academic year. The scholarships programme is an essential part of Blue Ventures' approach to investing in people, building local expertise and nurturing marine conservation from the grassroots.

Velondriake is located in one of the poorest regions of Madagascar, where less than 70% of the local Vezo population complete primary school and less than 20% complete secondary school. Drop-out rates are extremely high due to the difficulties that families face in paying school-related expenses.

The sustainablity of the Velondriake locally managed marine area depends on an educated population who can understand marine ecosystems and pursue a range of coastal livelihoods beyond fishing. 

Blue Ventures therefore runs a scholarships programme that provides young people in Velondriake with the educational opportunities that they need to create paths out of poverty and lead marine conservation within their communities. This is an essential part of the organisation's approach to investing in people, building local expertise and nurturing environmental protection from the grassroots.

Funds are used to
 pay for tuition fees, uniforms, stationery and textbooks. Mentoring, tutoring, housing stipends and meal plans are also provided to ensure that all of students are adequately supported to reach their full potential.

£30 is enough to send a child to primary or middle school for a year and £50 is enough to send a young person to high school for a year. 
Scholars are selected on the basis of financial need and academic achievement. These students could not afford to attend school without assistance from the programme.

Blue Ventures is 
committed to supporting its current 195 scholars to remain in education throughout the next academic year, and is also hoping to expand the programme to give even more bright young people in Velondriake the chance to pursue their aspirations. The fundraising campaign launched today therefore aims to raise £7,500 which would be enough to support more than 200 scholars.

bv scholar 2011 web.jpgSpecial attention is being focused on girls' education in Velondriake as families in the area typically have 6-7 children and, when faced with the financial decision of who to send to school, boys are often given priority over girls. This gender inequality results in fewer opportunities for women. 

Giving a girl an education improves her knowledge, skills and social engagement which in turn reaps many benefits for herself, her family and her community. Research shows that if you send a girl to school, she will earn 25% more income and invest 90% in her family. She will also have healthier and fewer children, enabling her community to live more sustainably alongside their unique marine environment.

In addition to appealing for donations through the campaign, Blue Ventures is also encouraging its supporters to take the initiative and do something to fundraise for the scholarships programme.

Ukti Shah, who grew up in Madagascar and now studies in the UK, recently did a sponsored bungee jump and succeeded in raising more than £500. She explained her motivation by saying, "I realised how fortunate I am to have these educational opportunities and to be able to choose what I would like to do with my life - it’s a privilege that many Malagasy children do not have."

Last month Ukti bravely confronted her fear of heights and completed her jump for change in aid of Blue Ventures' scholarships programme. "I hope that other people will be inspired to do things to fundraise for children’s education in Velondriake because I have found out that it’s easy to find the fun in fundraising!"

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