Only 1 in 3 children in Velondriake go to school. Most do not make it past primary level, and girls drop out far more often than boys.
Blue Ventures runs a school scholarships programme to provide bright children in Velondriake with the educational opportunities they need to create paths out of poverty and support marine conservation within their communities.
Less than 70% of the local Vezo population complete primary school and less than 20% complete secondary school. Drop out rates are high due to the difficulties that families face in paying school-related expenses.
Velondriake's sustainable natural resource management plan depends on an educated population who can understand marine ecosystems and pursue a range of coastal livelihoods beyond fishing.
By improving children's access to education and equipping them with the skills they need to effectively manage Velondriake in the future, the schools scholarships programme is key in growing marine conservation from the grassroots.
195 scholars are being supported this academic year (2012-2013) with tuition fees, uniforms, stationery and textbooks. Additional initiatives include mentoring, tutoring, housing stipends and meal plans to ensure that all students are adequately supported to reach their full potential.
Scholars are selected on the basis of financial need and academic achievement. These students could not afford to go to school without this support.
The President of the Velondriake Management Committee explains the importance of education
Blue Ventures is focusing special attention on girls' education in Velondriake.
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 young 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. Girls' education is therefore vital in driving economic development, improving community health and promoting conservation.
Please visit http://blueventures.org/our-approach/school-scholarships.html for more details about Velondriake's school scholarships programme.