2 429 graduate from AOH/ ZOU programmes in Mash West Beneficiaries of the Angel of Hope Foundation and Zimbabwe Open University short courses partnership proudly display their certificates during a graduation ceremony in Mashonaland West yesterday

Tendai Rupapa in BANKET
AT least 2 429 residents of Mashonaland West Province yesterday graduated in various disciplines under the ongoing partnership between First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa’s Angel of Hope Foundation and the Zimbabwe Open University.

This brings to 15 239, the total number of people who have so far benefited from the initiative, which is empowering the nation through open learning.

The number of beneficiaries is expected to grow rapidly as the intakes increase, following the success of the first intake.

Aimed at leaving no one and no place behind, the programme included widows, orphans, former ladies of the night, youths, the elderly and people with disabilities as its beneficiaries.

The short courses are conducted free of charge, contributing to the increase in the nation’s literacy rate and giving those who failed to complete their education due to various circumstances a chance to do so.

Proceedings started with the planting of gum trees and flamboyant trees to counter the effects of climate change, beautify the town and curb erosion.

During yesterday’s graduation, 217 attained certificates in Agriculture, 408 in Basic Counselling, 408 in Disability Management and Sign Language, 409 in Health Behaviour, 18 in Cultural Heritage, 293 in Entrepreneurship and Business Management, 374 in Early Childhood Development, 180 in Basic Nurse Aid- Palliative Care for the Elderly and 122 in Basic Computers.

The First Lady decried that in the province, no one showed interest in Basic Records Keeping and said they will investigate why this was so and said perhaps people did not appreciate why the course was essential therefore the need to educate them on its importance.

The oldest graduate was Gogo Prisca White (74), who excelled in agriculture and expressed interest to enter the next intake.

“With my advanced age I never dreamt of attaining university education but the First Lady has made it possible for me and others who benefited. I look forward to bettering my yields because I now have the knowledge in agricultural issues. I want to thank Amai, the First Lady for opening success doors for us so that we do better in life,” she said.

Youthful Tinashe Mpandawana, who has a disability, completed two courses in Basic Counselling skills and Basic Sign Language and Disability Awareness.

“I thank Amai for embracing everyone including those of us who are living with disabilities. I did Sign Language and Disability Awareness programme to be able to communicate with my peers.

“Using the knowledge acquired, I will use the certificates to realise income for my personal upkeep and that of my family. We wish the First Lady a long life because of her love and commitment to bettering the lives of other people,” he said with a broad smile.

Similar words were echoed by a former lady of the night who said the First Lady had given her back her dignity as she could now raise her children using clean money.

“The course that I have attained will help me earn clean money to raise my family with dignity. I no longer have to risk my life to put food on the table because some of our clients would refuse to pay and threaten us with death while others exposed us to diseases.

Mr Tinashe Mpandawana thanks First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa for the partnership between Angel of Hope Foundation and Zimbabwe Open University saying it was benefiting every willing Zimbabwean despite their status in life. Mr Mpandawana received three certificates during a graduation ceremony in Mashonaland West yesterday

“I now have been given the opportunity to work for myself and encourage others to quit the world’s oldest profession,” she said.

“Today you are increasing the number of those who took it upon themselves to take up courses designed by ZOU. Since the first certification that took place on the 29th of November 2021, a total of 12 810 have been certified.

“With an addition of 2 429 today, I am happy that by the end of this ceremony, 15 239 would be holders of Angel of Hope and ZOU short courses certificates that speak positively about women and girls’ hunger for knowledge and skills,” the First Lady said in a speech read on her behalf by Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka.

“Vanamai pamwe nana baba vakakutsigirai to take up these studies, I am gratified by the numbers of those who are receiving their certificates today. I am happy that some have already started using the knowledge they acquired, some of you were teased and want to go further with their studies while others share the knowledge with their peers.

“Above all, if a mother goes to school, it will inspire their daughter to go to school for a brighter future. If girls go to school, child marriages will decline because education opens the mind and sharpens people’s brains.”

“Education is a weapon to fight early child marriages and the stressing of young women. I am grateful that what we have here is a sign that our daughters will have a bright future because of their mothers who love education,” she said to applause.

Angel of Hope Foundation and ZOU partnership for community empowerment through open learning programme, Dr Mnangagwa said, positively responds to the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) 2021-2025 call for a knowledge-driven economy.

The promotion of an increased determination in socio-economic entrepreneurship through life-changing short courses, she said, sustains lives of individuals, families, communities and indeed, the whole nation.

“The partnership’s joint efforts intend to leave no place and no one behind as the country marches towards Vision 2030, as articulated in NDS1.”

The First Lady reminded ZOU that disadvantaged members of the Mashonaland West community in Hurungwe, Kariba, Makonde, Sanyati, Chegutu and Mhondoro-Ngezi were eagerly waiting to benefit from the short courses.

“My office received enquiries and requests from some sections which are yet to benefit, concerning schedules for the training programme,” she said.

Speaking at the same occasion, ZOU Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Gundani paid tribute to the First Lady for her vision and efforts to empower the nation through open learning.

“The whole country saw her introducing many programmes since 2018. We saw it befitting as Zimbabwe Open University to seek an opportunity to work with her. We have a partnership with her Angel of Hope Foundation. We saw an opportunity that as she does her Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba, among her many other programmes, we could also work with her as the only open university in the country,” he said.

Prof Gundani explained that his university could take so many students at once since it did not require students to be at a single location.

“Distance learning means that we work differently from other varsities that have restrictions as to the number of points they require. If you have three subjects and English plus experience, we welcome you and encourage you to come to school and not sit at home because we are waiting for you.

“We are not limited in terms of recruitment because of accommodation as an open university, we offer distance education so stay at your home and learn from there as you continue doing your work from home.

“We want to thank the First Lady for her vision to let us enter villages and suburbs to teach people. I thank you heartily for coming in your numbers here in Mashonaland west province. This was our first intake but we shall continue offering these courses through many other intakes going forward. To the districts which are yet to benefit, we are coming there,” said Prof Gundani.

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