Twenty two students were awarded with the scholarships at Prince Edward High School in Harare with the US ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray saying the US will continue to assist disadvantaged students who are bright in school.
“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.
“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.”
Music legend Oliver Mtukudzi who attended the ceremony which was attended by David Coltart, Minister of Education, Sports and Culture and family members of the departing students, who hail from all over Zimbabwe.
“Believe it or not, I was there at school. 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,” Tuku said.
“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.”
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 stabilise the (education) sector and take it forward,” said 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.”
“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,”he added.
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 Education USA Advising Program, which has centers in Bulawayo, Gweru, Harare and Mutare. Education USA started in 1999 in Zimbabwe. USAP is now in 14 countries on 4 continents.