EMPOWERMENT champion First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, yesterday broke new ground by launching the country’s first ever career guidance, etiquette, deportment and grooming programme aimed at imparting a positive mind-set in the younger generation at a colourful ceremony that attracted thousands of learners, captains of industry, influential personalities and Government officials.
The programme, which was launched in Harare and will be replicated across the whole country, is targeting children aged from 8 to 14 years of age.
So well-coordinated was the event that there was not even a dull moment as the learners, who were drawn from over 100 schools in Harare, got as much information as they required and the rare opportunity to interact with the First Lady and their role models.
Pilots, engineers, doctors, nurses, journalists, business people and high-level officials were granted the opportunity to interact with the learners, sharing their life experiences as a motivational factor.
Uniformed forces like the police, army and air force were part of the engagement which also seeks to fight drug abuse and general lawlessness among young people.
The leaners were allowed to ask questions during a lively interactive session which left them motivated and inspired.
Dr Mnangagwa gave a moving speech during which she shared her personal experience with the aim of encouraging children to choose their career paths and working towards realising their dreams.
“I would like to welcome all the stakeholders who have attended this event for seeing the significance of imparting a positive mind-set to our younger generation. I am very happy boys and girls to see you all here today and as I have always said you are all looking very presentable and well-behaved. Well done. My personal brief background is that I didn’t get all these opportunities and all I knew that time was to become a nurse which I also didn’t get the opportunity to being a nurse. Those days the only two careers which dominated were a teacher and a nurse only and I failed to become one of these and I leave you to think, so what happened in my life,” she said.
The mother of the nation explained the vision behind the launch of the programme.
“The vision behind the launch of this programme was driven by my passion to sit down with you our children and help you make informed choices for your future. I am launching the programme here in Harare Metropolitan Province and taking it to all other remaining nine provinces in Zimbabwe.
We have a lot of young people who missed this critical life guidance which in turn cost them a lot of opportunities when older. Look today, we have drugs that have destroyed you our young generation. We should fight this together.
“Consequentially, this programme aims at giving you our children considering this route of a good career. The much-needed exposure of the different professions both traditional and modern for you to have a wider range of what careers they have in store for you. Gone are the days when career paths and study options were rigidly set in stone as technological advancement and other factors have seen the creation of other job prospects and study choices as well. We have evolved from having limited career paths but a vast array has been added to the ones already existing. I am here today my children to launch the career guidance programme for all of you here today so that you gain knowledge on the different career paths that you can choose and the necessary steps you need to take into account in order to be there,” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa spoke about the stakeholders she was working with.
“Today I have my delegation from various industries varying from the public to the private business sector who will share with you their life stories and how they got to be where they are today. They were young just like you and had dreams like all of you. So listen attentively, take notes and write down all the important factors that they are going to present to you. Everyone has a dream but it takes courage to set your goals and stick to them until you succeed. It is very important to be focused on your goals and remain disciplined until you have achieved your set objectives. Determination breeds success and discipline in turn breeds sustainability of that success. So today I want you to introspect and ask yourself these questions, who am I, what do I want to be when I grow up, how will I get to the level I want to reach. With hard work, anything is possible and does not matter which background you are coming from. I am here to encourage you to believe in yourself and never look down upon yourself. Work hard in your studies and respect your parents.
It is my prayer that this programme begins to have true and motivational success across the country,” she said.
Dr Abedeniko Undenge, a specialist physician, represented the health profession.
“I am speaking on health profession, a profession which remains relevant forever since health is an integral part of life. After studying medicine, you can further your studies and specialise. This is a fulfilling and honourable profession. Imagine kubatsira munhu anenge akufa and bring her/him back to life, how wonderful and fulfilling is it. I urge you to study hard and become health professions be it doctors, nurses among many others,” he said.
He told the children that to become a doctor they should pass science subjects.
During a question and answer session, Kelly Jambo, a Form 2 learner, sought to know how long it takes for one to become a doctor.
In response, she was told that seven years split as five years training and two years’ internship under the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Adah Obukwa, inquired about the number of professions in the medical field and learnt that they were more than
Asked Chloe Mhaka: “If I train as a nurse, can I upgrade to become a doctor?” She was however, told that this was impossible as one needed to study medicine to become a doctor.
The police was represented by Assistant Inspector Phillip Mandizvo, Sergeant Joshua Manyena and Assistant Inspector Thomas Chauke, who said one needed five subjects including Mathematics and English to train as a policeman.
“I came from Binga to train as a police officer. I didn’t know Harare then but I was recruited showing that we are not selective, we recruit from all over around the country be it in urban areas or rural areas. In the police force we have doctors, nurses, teachers, sports people, artists, carpenters, mechanics to mention a few,” he said.
Children laughed when they were told that benefits of being police officers included free uniforms.
In addition, other benefits were said to be free accommodation and going to United Nations duties.
“There are opportunities to further your studies while in the force. I now hold a Master’s degree. We encourage discipline in the police force,” the learners were told.
The entry age for the police force, they were told, was 18 to 22 years.
“Previously police officers trained for six months but now it’s two years and one would get a diploma,” said one of the policeman.
A learner asked: “I heard that if you are short you are not recruited. Is it true?”
In response, the police officers said there were height restrictions like 1,62 metres for a girl and 1,68 metres for a boy.
Pauline Dangirwa asked: “If I failed Ordinary Level, but am able to run, do I get recruited?”
In response, they said one needed 5 O’ Levels and a maximum of two sittings were acceptable.
Major Helland Sibanda shared information on the military.
“There is a misconception, when children see a soldier they think of war. That is not the case. It is just like any other profession and there are many professions within. We are the mother of all professions,” he said.
He said there were doctors in the army and army doctor, Captain Dr Masokwedza spoke to the children and gave them words of encouragement.
A female soldier said: “Ladies, let us be soldiers, doctors, engineers. Girls can do it too. I am a soldier and in the army I am a clinical psychologist. “It’s good to be a lady in combat.”
Lieutenant Christine Tuwande, a social worker in the army, also interacted with the learners.
There was also a military engineer to inspire the children.
“We welcome you to join the Zimbabwe National Army,” they all said.
The children asked why height was an important factor.
“You need a balanced weight and height to go through the rigorous training,” one of the soldiers responded.
When it was his turn, Engineer John Mberi jokingly said: “Come and become engineers because we do not consider height.
“I was in the rural areas herding cattle and playing plastic football with no hope. I was helped with fees by good Samaritans and I studied hard to become one of the first black engineers.
“If I did it, you can also do it. The world is going digital so engineers are very important. Take this nation to the higher level as engineers.”
Eng Mberi said there were many types of engineers and the opportunities were plenty.
Mr Culum Philp, a manufacturer and CEO of Pro-Dairy, shared his journey to success.
“I started my career early at 18 in Mazowe where I grew up. I started with breeding rabbits, rearing goats then poultry. I would then source for market. Now I am 36-years-old and I am the CEO of Pro-Dairy. Determination took me to where I am today,” he said
Asked who inspired him to produce food in Zimbabwe, he said: “I was tired of consuming imported products. I wanted to defy that and produce locally.”
From the Aviation industry was Squadron leader Angeline Bosha, the first female jet pilot in the Air Force of Zimbabwe and Captain Chipo Matimba.
Squadron Leader Bosha said: “Boys and girls, do not limit yourselves on whatever you want to achieve. Dreams come true if you are determined, focused, hardworking and you persevere.
“Joining the military is a major decision that demands courage, discipline and sacrifice. To the women and girls, the male dominated careers may seem to be a hurdle but if you prepare your mind and tell yourself you are equally a man, you will pull through.
“Aircraft knows no gender. Look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you can do it. The sky is not my limit, it’s actually my playground. My sisters join the profession; girls can do it too.”
Captain Matimba also shared her story and encouraged the children to work hard and realise their dreams.
“Believe it or not, I am a product of a Harare Metropolitan Province School, Girls High School. I joined the Air Force of Zimbabwe as an officer cadet and a trainee pilot and I graduated as the first woman pilot ever to be trained as a military pilot,” she said to applause.
Capt Matimba explained to the children the work of other professionals in the aviation industry, like flight attendants.
They both took questions from learners and answered accordingly.
Representing the journalism fraternity, ZBC Chief Correspondent Reuben Barwe gave a brief background of himself, starting as a learner at Gandanzara Primary School in 1960.
He advised the youths to remain focused even at times when things do not look rosy.
He also encouraged those from less privileged backgrounds to make use of that background as a launch pad for advancement to wherever they dream to get in life.
Earlier, the Minister of State for Harare Metropolitan Province Charles Tawengwa had spoken glowingly of the First Lady’s endeavours.
“It is my singular honour and privilege to welcome you to this momentous and yet important career guidance, etiquette, deportment and grooming programme which is being spearheaded by her excellency the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa. Amai believes in the famous statement “catch them young”. As the Harare metropolitan province we feel greatly honoured and privileged to be the pioneer province of the launch of the career guidance programme.
“As such, we feel blessed to have you here Amai as well as the opportunity to work alongside your wise counsel and guidance. Your timely intervention of bringing together pupils between the ages of 8 and 14 in Harare metropolitan province is really appreciated especially as the nation is faced with an alarming scourge of child abuse and youth delinquency manifesting itself through drug and substance abuse amongst other negative social vices,” he said.
Minister Tawengwa highlighted the importance of the programme.
“Amai, career guidance and life skills will help our children to better navigate life circumstances and work towards the attainment of Vision 2030 and not leaving anyone or any place behind.
“As Harare Metropolitan Province, we align and support great works you are undertaking Amai as you are securing a better future for our children. Ladies and gentlemen, let me take you back to the beginning of 2023 when as Harare Metropolitan Province we gathered at Sunningdale primary school where we witnessed Her Excellency preparing and feeding schoolchildren through the home-grown school feeding programme.
“We are blessed Amai to update you and say that the programme is yielding results as this has improved school attendance, retention and completion rates. Furthermore, we have achieved positive nutrition and health for our schoolchildren. The programme also increased the appreciation of home-grown traditional foods amongst our children.
“As we assemble here today to ensure that our children learn from the mother of the nation herself the importance of etiquette, how they must conduct themselves in terms of greeting, use of polite language, good table manners, proper dressing, respect of personal space, listening to others, punctuality and good communication.
“These are skills that our young children need to know as we now live in a global village. We need to invest in human capital development where appropriate skills must be impressed upon young minds so that they grow with the right attitude.
“The First Lady has deep love for children’s development as such she supports career guidance where learners are helped to acquire the knowledge, information, skills and experience necessary to identify,” he said
Learners from various schools praised the First Lady for her vision and said this will prompt them to work hard in school.
“I want to work hard so that I can become an engineer. Eng Mberi said he grew up in the rural areas but this did not deter his dreams. He worked hard in his studies to be where he is today. His speech was so motivating and I will have to work hard to succeed,” said Craig Munakamwe.
His views were shared by Leslie Nyathi.
“What the First Lady did for us today was an eye-opener. She showed us that with the zeal to learn and appetite to succeed, one can never go wrong. I will forever cherish the wise counsel from our mother and promise never to let her down. There is no short-cut to success. We need to work hard at all times,” he said.
Eliana Mugombe said she had been captivated by Captain Matimba’s speech.
“She chronicled her journey to success and shared with us that she had to work hard to be where she is today. Were it not for the First Lady, I am sure we would not have met such wonderful and inspiring characters. Our mother is so well meaning and the ball is now in our court to succeed,” she said happily. The Herald