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Can a scholarship solve a major communications challenge?
In many cases scholarships make it possible for people to partake in degrees that may have been out of reach but what if a scholarship also made it possible to play a critical role in a campaign that could potentially save lives in your country?
Berlin School participant and Executive Creative Director at Nigeria’s Noah’s Ark, Bolaji Alausa, is finding this out first hand. He is the winner of the Global Health Communication Scholarship provided by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. This unique scholarship not only provides for the full-cost of tuition but also offers the opportunity to play a key role in the development of a communication campaign and strategy that will create awareness of and demand for vaccinations in Nigeria.
While he was attending the Berlin School’s Start Module this past March, we asked Bolaji a few questions about the scholarship and what motivated him to become involved with such a unique project.
As a communications professional in Nigeria, what do you see as the biggest challenge in communicating the need for wider vaccination coverage?
There isn't one big challenge; there are layers of big challenges. The creative community spends a lot of time on frivolous campaigns, so mobilizing them to do good for once will be a key task. That's internally. Externally, the main barrier to break is the idea of a conspiracy in some quarters that vaccination is a Western agenda to harm unsuspecting Nigerians. It's not true; we will have to debunk that.
What inspired you to apply for this scholarship?
I have always wanted to attend the Berlin School, but needed financial aid. In 2014, I attended the Berlin School’s compact Cannes Creative Leaders Programme and was convinced it was the right school for my needs.
With the insurgency in the northern part of the country, Noah's Ark in partnership with Boko Halal, a nonprofit, spearheaded several initiatives to shed light on the issues, particularly the kidnapped schoolgirls from Chibok. So when I saw the scholarship requirements, I knew the task wasn't too far from what I was currently doing for Boko Halal, plus I currently work for SFH (Society for Family Health) an NGO, and had done work for various other NGOs in the past. I knew I might just be able to respond to the brief appropriately.
This scholarship isn’t simply a monetary gift; you will be helping an organization tackle a significant communication challenge. Do you think this could serve as a model for organizations with similar challenges?
I have had several meetings with the GAVI officials from Geneva already. The paper that won the scholarship has been redrafted and presented to senior stakeholders, so the campaign proper will start sometime soon.
I believe it's a model worth adopting, and not just by big organizations like GAVI, there are several equally relevant Nigerian organizations that need to partner with creatives to solve problems.
Are you considering a scholarship for the Berlin School’s Executive MBA program? Take a look at the options available for the September 2016 Intake: