Academy for Academics + Indextra: making dreams come true in The Gambia

In some nations education is a given – a right every student has. In others,  it’s an expensive dream accessible only to a lucky few.

The Academy for Academics works to expand those opportunities, supporting poor students in The Gambia with the financial means to continue studying and build a brighter future. Indextra, of course, is a proud partner, offering free library access to medical students for the entire duration of their studies.

Margareta Danelius, board member of Academy for Academics, tells us more. 

 

Margareta Danelius was lucky enough to be born in Sweden. It’s not something she takes for granted. 

“In Sweden we are given this incredible opportunity from the government, from society: the gift of education.” 

Taxpayer money provides for higher education for each and every person, helping contribute to an equal society where students of any background can succeed. 

“But in Gambia, that’s not the case.”

Danelius is one of the founders of the Academy for Academics foundation. The idea came to her while she was working with another group in The Gambia, Kololi Gambia Sponsorship, which sponsors younger children’s education, from nursery level to high school. It was an incredibly rewarding programme, but Danelius came to realise that it had its limits. 

“Many of them graduated from high school but had no possibility of going further, to higher education.”

Coming from a privileged Swedish background where higher education was a given part of life, she wondered if other academic Swedes might be interested in assisting the Gambian students, paying the gift of education forward. And that’s how Academy for Academics was born in 2016.

“The university in Gambia helped us find students who needed our help, who maybe started attending school for only one or two semesters and could not afford to continue. Other students come directly from Kololi Gambia Sponsorship, and now that we have been working for a while, word of mouth spreads and we also get spontaneous applications.”

For the students on the receiving end, the programme is life-changing. 

“The students have amazing drive, and want to do something for themselves but also for their family and country,” says Danelius. “And when we tell them that this is possible, it’s really such a dream come true for them. It’s touching…and this is what inspires us.” 

In addition to the funds to put the students through school, Academy for Academics also provides them with all the medical literature they need – thanks to Indextra.

“We asked our students what other obstacles they had, apart from the financial obstacles, and one of the main issues was access to literature,” Danelius explains. 

“Most of the students have smartphones, but the libraries are very poor and internet access is often very limited.” 

When she learned that Indextra had an extensive medical library that worked offline, she knew it was a perfect match.

“The students think it’s fantastic. Indextra gives them access to literature they couldn’t get otherwise, or that they could only access during the limited hours of the university library,” she says.  “Now they can use it in their own homes. It makes a huge difference.”