By Tendai Makaripe
THE Belgian government in conjunction with the European Union has stepped to the rescue of some disadvantaged youths from Bindura and Shamva districts in Mashonaland central province through the introduction of a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) program meant to help vulnerable and disabled youths fight poverty and discrimination.
Non- governmental organisation, Development Aid from People to People (DAPP), the principal recipient of an estimated 444 444 Euro grant is spearheading the implementation of the program that also incorporated associate members from both the public and private and sector.
These include Bindura University of Science Education, Chaminuka Vocational Centre, Leonard Cheshire disabilityZimbabwe, and Ponesai Vanhu Training Centre. “The program which targets youth from underprivileged backgrounds and those with various disabilities endeavours to equip participants with practical and technical skills through the provision of a variety of courses that include, motor vehicle maintenance, beauty therapy, electronics, and gadgets repair and maintenance, Electrical Engineering, Auto Electrics, Metal Fabrication, Carpentry and Joinery, and Smart Agriculture among others,” coordinator of the TVET program Edwick Mafama said.
He added that the eight-month-long short courses are being conducted at two training centres namely Chaminuka VocationalTraining Centre and DAPP’s Ponesai Vanhu Vocational Training Centre.
“The learning process requires that students complete a four-month-long theoretical training program before embarking on another four-month-long industrial attachment program,” said Mafama.
Recently, the program received a European delegation from the Vocational Education and Training Toolbox (the funding partner) represented by Martina Winkler, Bartelijne Janneke Frederika, and HannoKnopp who came to assess the program’s progress. During meetings with representatives of the funding partners, the trained youths who were part of the evaluation visit expressed their gratitude to the various stakeholders involved in the initiative.
“As a person living with disability and coming from a poor background I did not have a chance to further my education but through the program I have been trained to repair cell phones and computers, conduct software installation among other related skills,” said 21-year-old Benson Nyanhi.
Nyanhi has ambitions to start a cellphone and computer repair enterprise if he finds any benevolent financiers.
Another student, Lisa Madzikova added that the program has been an eye opener as it is helped her make a mark even in a male-dominated field. “I trained as a motor mechanic and I am now able to do engine overhaul, detecting and diagnosing faults in engines and parts, repairing and replacing worn and defective parts, and reassembling mechanical components among others,” she said.
DAPP program supervisor, Struggle Muzawazi said the program is in line with the National Development Strategy 1 which seeks to empower youths based on an understanding that they are pivotal to economic development.
“We created a platform for skills development to enable our young people to make use of their skills to turn around the economy so that Vision 2030 can be achieved,” said Muzawazi.
“We would like to thank various private sector enterprises that accorded our participants industrial attachment opportunities,” he added.
Muzawazi also appreciated the private-public partnership that included various government ministries like Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender, and Community Development, Ministry of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare, Ministry of Local Government, Public Works, and National Housing as well as the input of traditional leaders like Chief Bushu, Chief Masembura, and Chief Nyamaropa.
“The involvement of these relevant stakeholders and line ministries goes a long way towards ensuring the sustainability of the project for both the graduates and the continuation of vocational education training at both institutions.”
“A lot of lessons have been learned during the implementation of the program and this involvement of line ministries helps build advocacy on inclusive education in all TVET Centres around the country so that no one is left behind,” said Muzawazi.
The TVET for all pilot program has since November 2019 trained 400 vulnerable youths, 50 percent of whom are young vulnerable women and another 15 percent is comprised of youths living with disabilities.