Posted by Thoko Mkwanazi on Jul 18, 2017
 
 
Thoko Mkwanazi's profile
 
Sponsoring a student gives one the incredible opportunity to finance that student's education and make a positive impact on their future. I have the privilege and the honour to be the administrator of a Scholarship Program through which we have now seen 2 College students graduate and 18 are still enrolled at the University of Science and Technology (NUST) and Lupane State University (LSU) in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. It costs approximately $1,200 annually to sponsor a student in Zimbabwe.  A contribution of $100 monthly will send a student through University in Zimbabwe.  Contributions received are wired directly to the University bank accounts referencing the names of the students under sponsorship.  Universities generate invoices for each student at the beginning of each semester and provide their performance reports a few months after the end each semester.
Our Graduates:
 
Mr. Nkosilathi Khayelihle Mkandla
2015 Graduate from National University of Science and Technology - Comm – Insurance and Risk Management
Ms. Sibonokuhle Sibanda
2015 Graduate from National Universityof Science and Technology – Management
 
 
The launching of this scholarship fund was our way of alleviating the economic challenges faced by many parents who currently reside in Bulawayo, a city that was once revered as the industrial heart of Zimbabwe and of Southern Africa to a greater extent. Scenes of desolation and abandonment now characterize Zimbabwe’s second largest city.Bulawayo’s vast industrial areas remain mostly abandoned. The roads are filled with potholes. Warehouses lie empty with broken windows. Their grand entrances, once crowded with workers, are now filled with overgrown elephant grass. Faded signs, rusting roof panels and chained gates tell a story of something gone horribly wrong.
 
Although the massive economic problems Zimbabwe is grappling with are not unique to Bulawayo, it is probably the country’s hardest-hit city. Tribalism is a major factor that has affected the residents of this city including the whole region of Matabeleland, which has been subjected to marginalization and disenfranchisement.
 
 
Having grown up in a country that had the highest literacy rate in Africa, Education was paramount in one’s life and community.  Every parent’s dream was to ensure their children received quality education.  In the 1980’s Zimbabwe was reported to have an adult literacy rate of approximately 90% which was still the highest in Africa.  However, Zimbabwe has since been hit by political and economic crisis that has led to a total collapse of the education system. Poor salaries for teachers and other civil servants have caused them to leave, leading to a brain drain in the country. Rural districts have been most adversely affected. The development of the mind is fundamental to the development of humanity. An improvement in education brings hope for the future. In 2010 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimated that 83.6% of Zimbabweans aged 15 and older were literate.  That number continues to decline. Now there are many other African countries that have a higher literacy rate than Zimbabwe: Equatorial Guinea (94.2%), South Africa (93%), Seychelles (91.8%), Gabon (89%), Mauritius (88.8%), Swaziland (87.8%), Burundi (86.9%), Botswana (85.1%) and Cape Verde (84.9%), to name a few.
The former Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Senator David Coltart told a European Union delegation touring the Matabeleland (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matabeleland) region in 2012 that imbalances between Mashonaland and Matabeleland region started during the Gukurahundi genocide (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gukurahundi) that claimed more than 20,000 lives in Matabeleland and Midlands region.  He said grants to build schools then were only allocated to the Mashonaland region. 
 
He also added that Zimbabwe required billions of dollars in order to solve historical imbalances that exist under the education sector between Matabeleland and Mashonaland regions. He disclosed that most of the students in Matabeleland region walk more than 18.6 miles to school on a daily basis. In addition there were few High Schools that offer mathematics and science subjects, hence it was not worthy for the government to set up science and technology universities in the region.  More information of Senator Coltart’s statement can be found in the following link:  http://www.davidcoltart.com/2012/01/matabelelands-education-disparities-due-to-gukurahundi-coltart/
 
Matabeleland is the region where I was born.  Reading this article literally broke my heart.  I had been so disconnected to the issues in Zimbabwe, and this was the beginning of my journey. I later learnt that not only have the people of this region been deprived of educational opportunities, they have been deprived of business and job opportunities, and the region was deprived of economic development unlike other parts of the country.  The region has been subjected to drought conditions as well, that have left the region barren from many fronts.  The more I thought of children growing up in this region without educational opportunities, or those that did but did not have parents that could afford to put them through school, the more I found myself wanting to do something about it, no matter how small.
 
Out of this desolation, jobless parents who cannot count on the government to support them, continue to remain hopeful that they can somehow create a bright path for their children.  2010 is a year that I became passionate about the situation in Zimbabwe, that I decided I was going to make a difference.  When I looked into the eyes of some of these parents during my visits, I decided it was time for me to step up and do something.  It was not clear at the time how I was going to be involved, however over time, the idea of starting a Scholarship Fund evolved as I discussed with friends.  Since launching this Scholarship Fund, we have been so overwhelmed by the needs that come our way.  Whilst we have resolved that we cannot support every student that comes our way, the opportunity of knowing that a few are beneficiaries of our fund, is beyond gratification.  
Our Scholarship Fund is comprised of friends who decided to band together for this noble cause. Some dedicated themselves to sponsor a student, whilst others make contributions as they are able.
 
Pictures taken with some of the students during my 2010 visit:
 
 
 
Come and help us support one Student and one School at a time.  Your support will be greatly appreciated.
 
Thokozile Mkwanazi
Rotary E-Club of One World D5240
A "PeaceBuilder" Club
http://www.oneworldrotary.org/
mamkwa@hotmail.com
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