Mukudzei Chingwere Herald Reporter
President Mnangagwa has launched a personal scholarship programme to assist students from disadvantaged families to pursue tertiary education, as part of his philosophy that a nation can never develop faster than the development of its education.
The programme is separate from the general educational support rendered by the Government and is expected to outlive his presidency as well as his life.
Known as the Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa University of Zambia Scholarship Programme (ED-UNZA) — the fund will benefit both Zimbabwean and Zambian students in an exchange that is expected to nurture the good bilateral relations existing between the two countries.
President Mnangagwa is a graduate of the University of Zambia.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Minister Professor Amon Murwira yesterday bade farewell to 10 students drawn from all Zimbabwean provinces who are expected to leave for Zambia today, while five Zambian students are expected in Zimbabwe soon to pursue university courses.
The first batch will see 40 percent of the pioneering beneficiaries studying law while two will enrol for computer science, one in agriculture and the other one geology. Two others will enrol for medicine and health sciences.
President Mnangagwa, a lawyer by training, said the selected degree programmes were in line with Government’s policies on human capital development and are derived from the National Critical Skills Audit of 2018.
The audit showed that although the national literacy rate was 94 percent, national skills levels are at 38 percent.
Sciences and engineering were at or below six percent while in law, the skills levels was at eight percent.
“I am therefore, committed to personally contribute in addressing these skills gaps by making higher education more accessible in these critical areas,” said President Mnangagwa through Professor Murwira.
“Higher education is one of the core pillars driving our National Development Strategy 1. This is because as the Second Republic, we are of the firm belief that education is the key to industrialisation and modernisation of the nation.”
Zimbabwe is pursuing a new education transformational thrust that compels tertiary education to pursue production and innovation.
“Thus, an education that provides knowledge and skills for addressing human needs for modernisation and industrialisation of Zimbabwe has become our main focus as a nation. The investment in human capital development by the patron through the ED-UNZA Scholarship Programme, is a reflection of his firm desire and conviction to secure Zimbabwe’s future as we look forward to attaining Vision 2030 where Zimbabwe must attain an upper middle income economy,” said the President.
“The education strategies and deeds are based on the intuitive philosophy that a nation can never develop faster than the development of its education.
“The Patron is therefore committed to give the best liberating and rewarding education for our people in general and our youths in particular. This can only guarantee our future as a nation and the future of Africa as a continent.
“To the ED-UNZA Scholarship beneficiaries, you are the pioneer recipients of this ED-UNZA Scholarship. This is a first.”
Professor Murwira told the beneficiaries that the President expected them to be good ambassadors of Zimbabwe in Zambia, urging them to exhibit exemplary behaviour.
Minister Murwira said the President wished the beneficiaries a happy stay in Zambia, a country that housed some of the freedom fighters, including the President, during the liberation struggle.
Zambia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Emmanuel Chenda thanked President Mnangagwa for the exchange programme and his commitment to education.
“This initiative is clear testimony of the importance that His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, attaches to education, more specifically that the scholarship is targeting highly gifted candidates from disadvantaged families.
“It is a recognition of education as an equaliser and key driver towards industrialisation and development of any country.
“This development is also in the spirit of the Memorandum of Understanding on science, technology and innovation between our two great countries, which seeks to, among other things promote the sharing of best practices in the areas of higher education, loans and scholarships,” he said.
Ambassador Chenda told the beneficiaries that they would have a warm reception since the school they were going to has trained luminaries like President Mnangagwa, President Edgar Lungu of Zambia and the late former President of Zambia Levy Mwanawasa.
The beneficiaries’ representative, Rachel Zvomuya, thanked the President for the scheme and promised to represent the country with distinction.