“There will never be a better Zimbabwean than a Zimbabwean,” Mtukudzi tells students headed to U.S. universities on scholarship”
Harare, June: United States colleges and universities have collectively offered $4.7 million in scholarships to twenty-two Zimbabwean students who participated in the United States Student Achievers Program (USAP) in the past year.
“Reflecting on my nearly three years in Zimbabwe…I enjoy celebrating well-deserved achievement with bright, energetic, youth filled with dreams of furthering their educations,” said Charles Ray, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe during a send-off ceremony at Prince Edward School to honor the recipients on Friday.
Musical icon Oliver Mtukudzi was the graduation’s Guest of Honor, which was also attended by David Coltart, Minister of Education, Sports and Culture and family members of the departing students, who hail from all over Zimbabwe.
“These young people are about to begin a series of adventures that will shape their individual futures and, undoubtedly, their communities and their country, Zimbabwe, when they return from the U.S,” said the U.S. Ambassador. The students earned scholarships to study for 4 years at top colleges and universities in the United States.
“So many Zimbabweans get a good secondary education. They then get a scholarship at Harvard or Oxford and then remain there…the value to their community or nation is ultimately lost,” said Coltart, who then strongly urged them to return to Zimbabwe and work for its future development.
“Believe it or not, I was there at school,” said Tuku to laughter from the audience. “You may laugh, but I was there. But unfortunately, I am not as educated …because I went to school for my parents. I understood that if I pass the exams, my parents would be happy. It wasn’t for me,” he added, challenging the students and their parents to encourage children to know why they go to school.
“Don’t ignore who you are. You go to school to enhance what you already have… Don’t be attracted by different cultures because your culture is not inferior at all; it is just unique… You will always be Zimbabwean, don’t forget that you are a Zimbabwean, and there will never be a better Zimbabwean than a Zimbabwean,” said Mtukudzi.
Minister Coltart said parents, teachers and school children had a passion for education and bemoaned the failure by Zimbabwean governments in the past decade to emulate this.
“The passion by parents, teachers and children has been an incredible source of encouragement for me as I seek to stabilize the (education) sector and take it forward,” said Minister Coltart.
“The challenge is that (the Zimbabwean) government itself needs to value education more. There is no doubt that in the past education was valued by the Zim government…but I believe the last two decades of successive governments, including the inclusive government, does not value education with the same passion as parents, teachers and children,” said Coltart. The Minister said foreign travel expenditure by the Zim government ”is almost three times the amount spent on non-salary components of education.”
USAP assists highly-talented, economically-disadvantaged students to access admission and full scholarships at top colleges and universities in the U.S. The program’s coordinator, Rebecca Zeigler Mano, began USAP “to level the educational playing field in Zimbabwe, providing access for bright students from all regions and ethnic groups in the country to realize their educational dreams, no matter what their economic and family background.” The program is an initiative of the EducationUSA Advising Program, which has centers in Bulawayo, Gweru, Harare and Mutare. EducationUSA started in 1999 in Zimbabwe. USAP is now in 14 countries on 4 continents. Further details are available on www.usapglobal.org
Graduating USAP Students:
1. Bhekinkosi Sibanda – Harvard University
2. Brian Zingwe – Providence College
3. Charlene Chabata – Brown University
4. Clive Mudanda – Duke Univesity
5. Farai Musariri – Hendrix College
6. Fortunate Chifamba – Smith College
7. Getrude Makurumidze – Bryn Mawr College
8. Iris Chipendo – Wesleyan University
9. Julia Jenjezwa – Yale University
10. Kudakwashe Muchandibaya – Jacobs University, Bremen
11. Kudzai Abslom Katema – Concordia College
12. Leslie Mateveke – Berea College
13. Mengezi Ngwenya – Connecticut College
14. Nigel Mevana – Amherst College
15. Paul Takunda Chazovachii – College of St Scholastica
16. PraiseGod Nyamundanda – Univ of Pennsylvania
17. Primrose Evelyn Nyahwai – Keuka College
18. Promise Kondo – Jacobs University, Bremen
19. Tinashe Matate – Jacobs University, Bremen
20. Veronica Mupazviriwo – College of St Elizabeth
21. Will Desiree Dokotela Moyo – Harvard University
22. Bulelani Jili – Wesleyan University (from Durban, South Africa)