The Sunday Mail
I AM the school captain and president of the debate club at Marist Brothers Nyanga High School.
I also hold the post of president of the Leadership Experience Opportunity.
Due to my excellent oratory skills, I have been named the Orate Africa 2022 National Public Speaking finalist, York Global Summer Schools scholar and International Global Network Ambassador.
As a social entrepreneur, who seeks to solve some of society’s biggest challenges, I founded the Bridge2University Africa programme.
In collaboration with Shasha Network, we hosted a three-day programme where local learners at Ordinary and Advanced levels, as well as those in grades 11 and 12 from South Africa, could network with students in universities across Africa.
This platform enables learners to enquire, learn and become aware of how they can explore tertiary education options.
It also enables them to secure scholarships.
Some of my friends attained good grades but could not progress to university because of financial challenges.
This online programme has benefited over 100 learners from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Nigeria.
The goal of this initiative, which falls under my Betterhorizon Zimbabwe project, is to eliminate child poverty.
I hope to create a brighter future, where phenomenal dreams are achieved for each and every child, regardless of background or status.
I also worked on a very innovative science project, after discovering how failure to access education resources is the major reason marginalised communities experience the lowest pass rates in national examinations.
An average learner studies about 10 subjects and a book costs around US$15, which translates to an average of US$150 per year.
At times, the figure is more than the school fees learners are expected to pay for the three learning terms.
For instance, some schools charge between US$$20 and US$50 per term.
I have also discovered that three out of every five individuals have mobile devices that are not compatible with modern e-learning methods. They also do not have funds for Wi-Fi.
But there is 100 percent SMS activity as almost everyone can afford text messages. I decided to leverage on both low-cost mobile devices that people have and SMS messaging platforms to create an artificially intelligent SMS chatbot that can provide educational resources through text messages and text modules.
I applied to take part in the Zimbabwe Science Fair using this idea and I was selected to be a finalist out of at least 400 applications.
Last time, I participated and won a bronze medal in the Computer Science and Software category and received the Regeron ISEF Finalist award.
With this accolade, not only will I represent my country but also the whole African continent at one of the biggest high school science fairs in the world. I attribute all I have achieved to my mother, who taught me, from a young age, to be a God-fearing servant leader, who puts the needs of others first.
◆◆ Cosmas Mandikonza is a Form Six
learner at Marist Brothers Nyanga High School