African Leadership Academy today announced the creation of the “Cisco Scholars” program. This program will be funded by the Cisco South Africa Education Trust, which was created by Cisco as part of its vision of participating in the socioeconomic transformation of emerging markets around the globe.
“By establishing the Cisco South Africa Education Trust,” said African Leadership Academy Founder and Chief Executive Officer Fred Swaniker, “Cisco is truly contributing to the long-term transformation of South Africa. As an early beneficiary of the trust, we at African Leadership Academy are extremely excited to partner with Cisco in its effort to develop the human capital of South Africa.”
Under the agreement, the Cisco South Africa Education Trust will fund scholarships for “Cisco Scholars” at African Leadership Academy. All Cisco Scholars will come from disadvantaged communities in South Africa. They will include boys and girls beginning with the inaugural class that enters ALA in September 2008. Cisco Scholars will be funded for both years of their ALA education.
With the Cisco Scholars program, Cisco will play a leading role in developing the next generation of South Africa’s leaders. At ALA, Cisco Scholars will receive a world-class secondary education, including an innovative curriculum with a focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and African studies. ALA will ultimately prepare Cisco Scholars to assume leadership roles in South Africa’s public, private and social sectors.
The Cisco South Africa Education Trust was created as part of a wide-ranging empowerment transaction designed to support the meaningful participation of previously disadvantaged groups of South Africans in the economic success of the company. At the announcement, Paul Mountford, President of Emerging Markets for Cisco, stated: “We believe the creation of the Cisco Scholars program underpins our commitment to supporting the South African government in the continued transformation of the country’s economy and, as a result, is in the best interests of all our employees, partners and shareholders in helping to grow our business.”
Chris Bradford, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at African Leadership Academy, believes there is an exceptional cultural match between the two organizations. “Cisco has always been an innovative company,” said Bradford. “As such, there is a wonderful match between Cisco’s innovative spirit and the educational innovations at African Leadership Academy. We look forward to bringing Cisco managers and technologists onto our campus as participants in ALA’s innovative mentorship and expert-in-residence programs. Together, ALA and Cisco can educate men and women who are deeply committed to Africa and empowered to make a significant and lasting difference in South Africa and across the continent.”
In closing his remarks to Cisco South Africa employees at the announcement event, Swaniker noted the importance of Cisco’s work in the development of the broader African continent. “ Education is ultimately what is needed to bring about sustainable transformation in South Africa,” Swaniker said. “I couldn’t agree more with Cisco CEO John Chambers when he says that ‘the two great equalizers in life are the internet and education.’ By bringing the Internet to the world, Cisco has already achieved the former. And now, through Cisco’s partnership with African Leadership Academy, it can achieve the latter.”
African Leadership Academy is currently accepting applications from students from across South Africa and the broader African continent to join its inaugural class. Beginning next year, ALA will bring together the most promising 15- to 18-year-old leaders from all 54 African nations for an innovative two-year program designed to prepare each student for a lifetime of leadership on the continent. Students will be selected to attend the academy based on merit alone, without regard to financial background or ability to pay.