What is the motivation behind Malengo? We believe that international educational migration is one of the most effective tools for poverty reduction. The evidence suggests that incomes are to a significant degree determined by where a person is, not who they are: even minimum-wage jobs in Germany pay many times as much as the typical job in Uganda. We therefore want to enable young Ugandans to expand their opportunities by completing a Bachelor’s degree in Germany.
Why Germany? Germany and its public universities are uniquely suited to the goals of Malengo for four reasons:
1. German public universities have no tuition fees. This is true even for foreign students, including those from outside the EU. Students only pay a low “semester fee” (“Semesterbeitrag”), ranging from EUR 62 to EUR 331 in the universities that are the focus of the program, which covers membership in the student union and travel on local public transport.
2. Admission is unrestricted for many courses, i.e. as long as students meet the minimum entrance requirements (usually consisting of a high school diploma and proof of English proficiency), they can register to study there. Only some highly sought-after programs have competitive entrance procedures; these courses are not the focus of the program. In addition, the Ugandan Certificate of Education (UCE) and Ugandan Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) are officially recognized for subject-specific entry, i.e. Ugandan high school graduates can enroll at these universities if they took the necessary subjects in high school.
3. German universities offer a growing number of Bachlor’s programs taught entirely in English, enabling even students who do not (yet) speak German to study there. Proof of German proficiency is not required to enter these programs, although proof of English proficiency is.
4. Germany has extremely low cost of living relative to most high-income countries. Official estimates suggest that students need EUR 861 per month for living expenses (not including semester fees). In practice, students from abroad live on EUR 646 per month on average.
Why Uganda? Uganda is one of the world’s poorest countries, with an annual per capita GDP of USD 777 (World Bank, 2019). It has the world’s second-youngest population, with a median age of 16 and more than 70% of the population below age 25. While Uganda has a rapidly growing secondary school graduation rate (17% in 2016, growing at about 5% per year), enrollment in tertiary education is under 4%. This is partly due to relatively high fees; for example, a Bachelor’s degree at Makerere University costs between USD 269 and USD 742 per semester in fees (i.e. not including cost of living). Finally, the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education is recognized for university entry in Germany.
What about brain drain? There are two reasons we don’t find worries about a possible “brain drain” in Uganda persuasive.
First, Malengo is Swahili for “goals”: we believe that every person deserves opportunities to pursue their goals, regardless of where they were born.
Second, the scientific evidence suggests that brain drain is not an important impediment to growth. On the contrary, international educational migration has significant benefits not only for the person who migrates, but also for the home community: migrants often send home remittances; they serve as role models for siblings and friends; and they create economic links between their host country and their home community.
You can find out more about the benefits of international educational migration on our Evidence page.
Can I donate? Yes! We are grateful for donations. Donations to Malengo are tax-dedictible in the United States, where Malengo is a 501(c)(3) charity; and in Germany, where Malengo is a non-profit LLC (gGmbH). Please find our donation page here. For larger donations, please get in touch with Johannes Haushofer (email@example.com).