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Alumna Leads New Women's Scholarships Drive

A special fund to promote women’s enrolment at Africa University is in the hands of brand-new alumna, Rebecca Mutyambizi, and she expects strong support from local corporate, church and civic leaders.

The Girl Child Scholarship  Fund initiative, which is the brainchild of Africa University, was launched by Zimbabwe Vice President, the Honorable Joice Mujuru, at the Mutare campus in April 2013.  Vice President Mujuru is the patron of the fund, which will provide fees for disadvantaged female students who intend to study at the university.

Mutyambizi, who chairs the initiative, was awarded her master's degree in public health from the Faculty of Health Sciences on June  8, 2013.  She described the launch as a day of firsts.

“This is the first such initiative by any university in Zimbabwe, and we have the first female Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and in south and Central Africa as our patron; and on her first visit to Africa University,” she said

Speaking at the event, the vice chancellor of Africa University, Dr. Fanuel Tagwira, highlighted the importance of the initiative. His remarks touched on the university’s efforts to promote gender equality and equity by deliberately increasing the numbers of female students and consistently keeping females at about 50 percent of the total enrolment. This year, about 52 percent of the students are female.

“This is a historic day in the life of Africa University and a great opportunity for you, Vice President, to see what the United Methodist Church has done for Zimbabwe and Africa,” he said.

During a tour of the campus, Vice President Mujuru and other government officials learned more about the university’s impact in training, research and outreach. The acting Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Dr. Ignatius Chombo said the Zimbabwe government appreciates the work of The United Methodist Church.

“The United Methodist Church has been a resolute, cooperating partner in education in Zimbabwe,” said Chombo. “You have been steadfast despite the innumerable challenges that you have faced and you have remained   resolute to the vision of the founding fathers of this institution: to educate the African child.” 

Chombo noted that the government’s policy of affirmative action in universities was another step in ensuring the education of the girl-child and creating a level playing field for women and girls to enter university. He added that the issues facing women, including the discrimination of the girl-child, were real.

Vice President Mujuru congratulated Africa University on the historic launch and the execution of its mandate as a tertiary institution.

"We are proud that you have lived up to our expectations and have achieved what you set out to do. With students from between 24 to 29 African countries, you truly deserve to call yourself African, “she said.

She commended Africa University for its high female enrolment, adding that it was a best practice which other institutions should emulate.

- Adapted from a story by Sharai Muonwa, program officer in the Information and Public Affairs Office at AU