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Address by the PM Tsvangirai at the graduation ceremony for students
in the United States Achievers Programme (USAP)
for Democratic Change (MDC)
June 30, 2011
Your Excellency, Ambassador Charles Ray, Public Affairs Officer
Sharon Hudson Dean, Educational Advisor and USAP coordinator Rebecca
Ziegler Mano, Senior Government officials here present, Parents,
Guardians, Students, Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure
to have been invited to this very important graduation ceremony.
I would like to commend
the government of the United States of America, through their local
Embassy, for putting education and knowledge as a top priority.
is universally recognized as one of the most fundamental building
blocks for human development and poverty reduction, I decided to
forego some of the many engagements that had been arranged for me
so that I could honour this great gathering.
Education, in the largest sense is any act or experience that has
a formative effect on the mind, character, or physical ability of
In its technical sense,
education is the process by which society deliberately transmits
its accumulated knowledge, skills, and values from one generation
For nations it creates
a dynamic workforce and well-informed citizens able to compete and
cooperate globally - opening doors to economic and social
It is key to attaining
the Millennium Development Goals.
The Millennium Development
Goals set a more realistic, but still difficult, deadline of 2015
when all children everywhere should be able to complete a full course
of primary schooling.
Towards achieving this
milestone, my Government through the Ministry of Education worked
with cooperating partners and raised 13 million textbooks for our
5 500 primary schools countrywide.
But education alone cannot
make up for the rigidities of life, because you who are graduating
today would not have made it without the support, assistance and
guidance from family friends, lecturers and most importantly the
people of the United States of America, through their local Embassy
here in Harare.
Thus, this gathering
today is to honour 31 Zimbabwean students who have earned scholarships
worth a total of US$6.9 million to pursue further studies at highly
selective colleges and universities in the United States through
the U.S. Student Achievers Program (USAP).
I am informed that the
31 students whom we are sending off today completed a year-long
programme run by the U.S. Embassy to assist them in the university
application and scholarship process. USAP is designed to assist
academically talented but economically disadvantaged students.
This is why, Your Excellency,
I would like to commend your Government for extending help to our
disadvantaged yet intelligent children.
This gesture that you
have extended is a seed that will germinate and multiply into many
more schooled Zimbabweans.
To you, the graduands,
I say that you must all realize that this is a great opportunity
you have been offered.
It is an opportunity
that you must exploit for the benefit, not only of yourself, but
of your parents, relatives and most importantly, your country.
In all cultures around
the world, people are confirming one simple and enduring truth:
whether in family, business, finance and politics, from giant multinationals
to working bees, more is achieved more efficiently, and to greater
effect, when we work together.
When partnerships work,
they build sustainable, well-managed and efficient human services.
In short, they can transform a system. It is one such great partnership
that has helped you to this day and that has opened this great door
in front of you.
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.
I am heartened to learn
that USAP students, who went before you, who have completed their
studies and training have begun returning to Africa and some specifically
to Zimbabwe. I hope you will all do the same at the end of your
learning process. Zimbabwe needs the new knowledge that you will
bring back home.
It is our belief that
when you bring back this knowledge, it will help cure the brain
drain that has so militated against development in Zimbabwe.
We hope that some of
you will employ your newly acquired skills to develop local schools,
colleges and universities. While we thank our co-operating partners
for helping you to leave the country for further studies, this should
not mean the abdication of duty by the Government.
The Government must continue
to improve the standards of learning institutions in the country,
improve the standards of earnings of teachers and lecturers and
this will help create a conducive learning environment for our children.
While I am heartened
by this gesture by the American people, my vision is to create world
class learning institutions so that our children do not have to
go outside the country to study, but can only do so as a choice
not because we do not have globally competing facilities.
We want Zimbabwe to reclaim
its status as a referral centre for education in the sub-Saharan
Africa and this vision will be supported by a strong education oriented
budget underpinned by a growing economy in a democratic environment.
This is possible.
As politicians we will
ensure that we address the political problem so that the environment
becomes conducive for education, for business and for investment.
This leadership gap had
taken Zimbabwe back to the primitive ages were brother rose up against
brother and where education was a preserve for a few rich elite.
This is not the Zimbabwe that we envisage. Over the last two years
we have arrested this decline in educational standards.
I am sure that when you
finish your studies in the US, we will have found a lasting solution
to the political crisis we are currently going through.
We have already started
this work by working on a new, democratic constitution. We have
also started work on a roadmap towards free, fair, democratic and
violence-free elections so that we resolve the crisis of leadership
and legitimacy that we face.
You must know that as
your Prime Minister, I attended a humble primary school in rural
Buhera and I did not have the great opportunity afforded to you
So go and be good students,
respect your hosts and work hard. Exhibit the true Zimbabwean spirit,
that of hospitality and hard-work. Be vigilant and wise.
I say to you be wise
as serpents but harmless as doves.
I thank you.
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