For a family in Madagascar, Pact scholarships make all the difference

Rodin, right, and his twin brother, both of whom received scholarships through Pact's RISE program.

In Manambaro, a remote, rural community near the southern tip of Madagascar, less than 1 percent of the population has had education past high school. Nearly three-quarters of people can’t read or write.

Rodin, a 22-year-old high school student who grew up here, is an exception.

With bright eyes and a broad smile, he’s one of the best students in Manambaro.

“I want to be a professor of mathematics at a university,” he says. “I strive to study hard because learning makes me happy.”

Rodin is exactly the kind of student that Pact targets with its RISE scholarship program, implemented with our funding partner Rio Tinto, the global mining and metals company. Rodin has received three merit-based scholarships through RISE. Besides covering recipients’ school fees, the scholarships provide comprehensive school kits, which families often can’t afford.

“These scholarships help my parents financially and they are helping me to finish high school,” Rodin explains.

Since its launch in 2012, RISE has awarded roughly 1,500 scholarships to promising students in Madagascar’s Anosy region, particularly in communities surrounding a local Rio Tinto mine site. In addition, RISE offers tutoring and a leadership program for high schoolers. Together, these efforts are boosting student performance, school retention rates and education access and quality in communities where child labor and early marriage are common.

Rodin has taken part in both the tutoring and the leadership program.

“I want the project to continue so I can keep learning and studying hard to achieve my dreams,” he says.

One thing that’s helped keep Rodin going, he says, is the example his twin brother has set.

Also a RISE scholarship recipient, he is now studying at a Malagasy university.