By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha
Harare, Zimbabwe – THIRTY-ONE students selected for the US Student Achievers Programme (USAP) graduated in Harare July 1 at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai.
“You are Zimbabwe’s torchbearers wherever you are going. The whole nation counts on you. However, you must be aware that this puts a huge responsibility over your shoulders, the responsibility to learn new technologies and to learn new cultures, which you will have to impart unto others upon your return,” said Tsvangirai, adding that he hoped the programme would help to cure the brain drain that has so militated against development in Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai said that the government must invest in education and that his vision was to create world class learning institutions in Zimbabwe.
“The government must continue to improve the standrads of learning institutions in the country, improve the standards of earnings for teachers and lectures and this will help create a conducive learning environment for our children,” he said.
The students, who earned $7 million worth of scholarships will be attending selected top colleges and universities in the US. Among the 2011 USAP group, three students are physically disabled, several are the heads of their households having lost both parents, and others are the offspring of street and market vendors.
One scholarship recipient worked as a gold panner to pay his A level fees and another will be the first Zimbabwean student in a wheelchair to study in the United States.
In his congratulatory message, Education, Sports, Arts and Culture Minister David Coltart welcomed U.S. support to education in Zimbabwe. ”This year’s scholarship awards…will enable still more students to pursue their goals and career paths through higher education – something that they might not otherwise have been able to do. Indeed, this generous support is particularly welcome at a time when families are facing increased financial pressures,” wrote the minister.
The U.S. Student Achievers Program (USAP) is a one-year intensive counseling program that assists academically talented but economically disadvantaged A level students to obtain full scholarships to top U.S. colleges and universities. The program helps the students research the best academic programs for their talents, prepare for standardized American university entrance exams, and write application essays.
The U.S. Student Achiever Program (USAP), established in 1999 in Zimbabwe, has been replicated by 15 other U.S. Embassies around the world, including Embassies in Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Latvia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mongolia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia.
Since it began in Harare, over 200 Zimbabwean students have won full scholarships covering tuition and fees, room and board, books and other expenses for four year bachelor degree studies in the U.S.