The Sunday Mail
Tendai Gukutikwa and Melody Vherenaisi
A total of 2 060 graduands from across Manicaland were conferred with certificates after completing various life-changing short courses through the Angel of Hope Foundation’s partnership with Zimbabwe Open University in Mutare on Friday.
Most of the graduands were from Mutare urban and Chimanimani districts.
Dubbed the AOH Foundation Open Learning Partnership, the partnership empowers communities through open and distance learning.
The main beneficiaries of the programme are women and girls, most of whom are former ladies of the night, widows, the elderly and people with disabilities.
A total of 1 006 students graduated with certificates in Basic Nurse Aid – Palliative Care for the Elderly, 413 with certificates in Early Childhood Development (ECD) training, 253 with certificates in Basic Counselling, 145 with certificates in Entrepreneurship and Business Management, 89 with certificates in Disability Management and Sign Language, 72 with certificates in Agriculture, 53 with certificates in Basic Computers, 17 with certificates in Health Behaviour, six with certificates in Basic Records Management and another six with certificates in Cultural Heritage.
In a speech read on her behalf by the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Cde Nokhuthula Matsikenyere, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa said she was overjoyed that people from different districts in Manicaland had enrolled for the programme in Mutare and attained their certificates.
She applauded them for their dedication to learning new skills and empowering themselves, and, as a result, promised to extend the training programme to all districts in Manicaland.
“Since the commencement of the course here in Mutare, I have been receiving positive news regarding the extent to which the short courses have been appreciated by the intended beneficiaries. However, Manicaland province also houses other districts, which I hear are awaiting the ongoing Angel of Hope Foundation/ZOU partnership short courses training programme. I have realised that there is still work that needs to be done and we will continue doing so until everyone has benefitted. I am so happy that you have the zeal to learn,” she said.
Dr Mnangagwa said, for Zimbabwe to prosper, it requires knowledgeable and skilled people as outlined in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
“Thus, the Angel of Hope Foundation/ZOU short courses training programme is one way of addressing knowledge shortfalls that befall some of us due to poverty, gender discrimination, marginalisation, geographical location and self-depreciation tendencies, among other negative factors. Thus, this gathering here today confirms a step in the right direction meant to reverse internalised self-disempowering tendencies such as ‘good for nothing’, ‘know nothing’, and ‘incapable of learning anything’, particularly directed at women and girls,” she said. She said the training programme was introduced to provide a window through which individuals’ unique skills would be revived, nurtured and upscaled.
As the country’s health ambassador, Amai Mnangagwa implored people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and to get the booster shot, and also to follow protocols announced by the country’s health authorities, working in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, to keep the deadly pandemic at bay.
“Even if you get vaccinated, keep following the recommended protocols. Ndidzivirire ndigokudzivirirawo (Protect me so that I also protect you) should be your motto,” she said.
Also addressing the graduates, ZOU Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Gundani applauded Amai Mnangagwa for spearheading developmental and humanitarian initiatives, saying it was the reason the university was spurred to seek partnership with the Angel of Hope Foundation.
“Today, we are witnessing your hand in restoring university learning opportunities to those who had since been deregistered and forgotten within the educational realm. No wonder you have earned local and international accolades for your humanitarian and developmental programmes,” he said.
He heeded Amai’s call for the decentralisation of the short courses training programme, and promised that they will take it to all the districts.
“Indeed, gauging by the response we got from Mutare urban, ZOU stands ready to cover Nyanga, Mutasa, Makoni, Chimanimani, Chipinge and Buhera districts. I am quite sure that our partnership will soon cover the whole of Manicaland in the near future since the programme intends to leave no place and no one behind,” said Prof Gundani.
In an interview, a beneficiary, Ms Noreen Bhasvi, who graduated with a certificate in Basic Computer Training, thanked Dr Mnangagwa, saying, through the Angel of Hope Foundation, she received a qualification and is looking forward to starting her own computer shop.
Another beneficiary, Ms Luckness Nyahume, said the opportunity allows her to be an employer in her neighbourhood, instead of being employed by someone else.
“I did the ECD training and it has helped me so much. I am happy that I can now open my own kindergarten centre and start enrolling learners. I will no longer look for work. Instead, I will be an employer and employ other youths in the neighbourhood,” she said.