Top Malaysian varsity offers scholarships to Angel of Hope Foundation Professor Joseph Adaikalam, Mr Gilbert Alvin, ZOU Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Gundani, Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Deputy Minister Raymore Machingura and Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Malaysia Constance Chemwayi during a meeting where Angel of Hope Foundation received scholarships from the Malaysian University at Zimbabwe House in Harare. — Picture: John Manzongo

Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter

MALAYSIA’s Binary University of Management and Entrepreneurship has offered First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa’s Angel of Hope Foundation post-graduate scholarships in business administration and information technology programmes in a development expected to widen the country’s skills base and ensure it maintains a competitive edge on the global market.

The university also pledged to set up a centre for women leadership in Zimbabwe through the long-standing Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) and Angel of Hope partnership.

The founder and chairman of the university, Professor Joseph Adaikalam, made the offer at a meeting with the First Lady.

He was accompanied by the Senior Director of International Collaborations Mr Gilbert Alvin, Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Zimbabwe Open University Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Gundani and Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Malaysia Constance Chemwayi.

Recently, universities in Tehran, Iran, offered Dr Mnangagwa scholarships in various fields for the benefit of academically gifted students from humble backgrounds in support of her philanthropic work and efforts to empower the country’s citizenry through education.

Prof Adaikalam has been an advisor to three Prime Ministers of Malaysia and six Ministers of Education and Entrepreneurship in his home country.

“The first initiative your Excellency is the Binary-First Lady scholarships and of course we are very happy that Your Excellency have consented to launch this in due course. These scholarships are post-graduate scholarships, meaning to say they are for Masters programmes, in particular MBA programmes and information technology programmes, MSc in Information Technology Management. These are extremely critical programmes, particularly the second one because Zimbabwe has begun to build the core of the multimedia super corridor, the Cyber City so I think it’s extremely timely that we are talking about the second programme at the post-graduate level,” he said.

The Professor explained that they had chosen post-graduate students to ensure they serve the country diligently since such studies were shorter than under-graduate degrees.

“The reason why we have chosen the post-graduate level Your Excellency is because after undergoing the programme in Malaysia, we want the graduates to come back to serve the country. That is why we have chosen the post-graduate level for two reasons, it can be completed fast. Post graduate programmes are usually 12 to 24 months. Under-graduate take three to four years and for us to see the actual results it will be pretty long. In 1989 Binary introduced the concept of creating industry specialist talents for the world market,” he said.

In her acceptance speech, Dr Mnangagwa chronicled the background of her organisation’s partnership with ZOU.

“Let me first start by giving you a brief background of the partnership between Angel of Hope Foundation and the Zimbabwe Open University. We started some programmes, short courses benefiting communities and are still ongoing. We targeted mainly disadvantaged groups especially those in rural areas. We are taking everyone on board regardless of age or level of education. And today you have also come to support me, thank you very much.

“I feel greatly honoured to be hosting the esteemed Binary University of Management and Entrepreneurship delegation. I am also grateful to all who worked behind the scenes for this event to take place. Deserving mention goes to our Zimbabwe Ambassador to Malaysia, Ambassador Constance Chemwayi. To the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development and ZOU, let me applaud you for the fruitful engagements that led to the coming of our guests.

Ladies and gentlemen, today, Angel of Hope Foundation, adding to its list of international associates, is a partner whose Global Corporate Social Responsibility is underpinned by “Prosper thy neighbour” philosophy. Distinguished delegates here present are witnesses to the scholarship awards. I want to thank you. This rare generous gesture is to go a long way in eradicating poverty, a major barrier to the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4; ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education that promotes life-long learning.

Using a criterion that targets uplifting lives of disadvantaged communities, my office, through Angel of Hope Foundation, and in consultation with the Ministry of HTEISTD, is to work out modalities that would see most deserving postgraduate beneficiaries getting selected each year from across the breadth and width of the country.

I know the needs and requirements which are in the whole country therefore, I know the targeted group for these scholarships. There are many who failed to proceed with their studies due to various circumstances and situations. So it feels good to extend our hands and help others like what you have done to the people of Zimbabwe,” she said.

The terms and conditions given, particularly, on the issue of Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 3.5 at entry point, and a minimum maintenance of 3.0, the First Lady said, would mean that a thorough selection process must be put in place in order to come up with deserving candidates.

“To the First Lady’s Office, and indeed the whole nation, revoking a scholarship because of failure to meet the grade when selected, would be an embarrassing moment.

“I therefore promise you, Founder and Chairman of Binary University of Management and Entrepreneurship Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato Professor Joseph Adaikalam that deserving beneficiaries would have gone through a rigorous selection process.”

Dr Mnangagwa said the partnership she was forging would feed into Zimbabwe’s skills development programme where there was a huge gap, according to the findings of the National Critical Skills Audit which was undertaken in 2018.

The study noted that Zimbabwe’s high literacy rate of 94 percent, had a mismatch of 38.25 percent skilled labour, creating an average deficit of 61.75 percent.

“Thus, the Government decided that in order to attain an upper middle-income economy by 2030, a holistic skills development plan aimed at empowering Zimbabwe’s human capital resource was to be prioritised as captured in the National Development Strategy 1 2021 – 2025 blueprint. Indeed, your coming on board with an offer of scholarships each year, subsequently offloads highly skilled Industry Special Professionals (ISP) at an opportune time. The two Postgraduate programmes on offer: Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Science in Information Technology Management (MSc ITM), would add requisite skills and knowledge in support of an inclusive growth trajectory for Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans are renowned for their hard work and unquenchable zeal for knowledge, skills, and competences so high Global Corporate Social Responsibility returns would be realised. This, I do not doubt.

“Internationalisation of education through partners of developed countries, such as Binary University of Management and Entrepreneurship guarantees Zimbabwe’s participation in the world economy that propels the modernisation and industrialisation agenda.

“Your Excellency, your offer of scholarship awards per year has been well received. I pray that this is going to change lives of many people. Those who are going to be given a chance, I implore them to make use of it. In Zimbabwe, the literacy rate is high, therefore we welcome this gesture from Binary University,” she said.

On the centre for women leadership, Prof Adaikalam said: “We have centres for women leadership in Malaysia.

“Through that centre we do many things to empower women and the girl child. We feel this could be useful in Zimbabwe especially to the women and girls in Zimbabwe. We can set up this centre in partnership with AOH and ZOU. We want to set up as soon as possible with your guidance.”

The First Lady accepted the offer and gave a brief background of how she was empowering women and the girl child through various projects. She said women were the backbone of families hence they needed support.

Ambassador Chemwayi praised Binary University for its offer and said what it does resonates well with the First Lady’s empowerment programmes.

“I am so excited and happy that you have really followed through, you kept your word. What Binary University does resonates very well with the works of the First Lady, Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa. These scholarships are something that as Zimbabwe we look forward to and we are grateful. It is my hope that you will become our ambassador back in Malaysia and ensure that the dialogue we have been having in Langkawi, we need to see it bearing fruit. And it is people like you who were in the background that time who really know what we were planning for Africa and we look forward to more and more inputs. Thank you so much once again Amai for your great works,” she said.

Prof Gundani told the guests how their partnership with AOH was helping the people of Zimbabwe and how they were taking everyone on board. He thanked the university for the scholarships.

Dr Mnangagwa’s passion for empowering vulnerable groups has seen her embarking on a journey towards ensuring access to quality education for all. Through the Angel of hope foundation, academically gifted students have acquired regional and international scholarships.

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