Nyasha Mapasa Post Reporter
PLAN International Zimbabwe Manicaland Programme Area last week launched its five-year strategic plan (July 2019-June 2024).
The Country Strategy (CS) will provide a roadmap to the organisation’s new focus on four strategic priority areas — Sexual Reproductive and Health Rights, Gender Transformative Child Protection, Youth Economic Empowerment and Inclusive and Quality Education.
The organisation has a purpose of, “Striving for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls”.
The Plan International Country Strategy goal is to reduce child and unplanned youth pregnancies and child marriages in Zimbabwe to enable girls, boys and young people to develop into responsible and engaged citizens.
It has a bold target of reaching 3,5 million children and young people, especially girls, to learn, lead, decide and thrive by June 2024 through its programmes.
Speaking on the sidelines of the country strategy’s launch in Mutare last week, Plan International provincial programme area manager Mr Stanley Dawa said their objective was primarily to benefit girls as they are more vulnerable in most cases.
Under the strategic priority area of inclusive and quality education, Plan International has embarked on supporting communities with low-cost boarding facilities for girls.
This initiative has come to the rescue of hundreds of Chipinge rural learners who were walking long distances to school.
“There is a certain bias towards the girl child in this because they are disproportionately affected and more vulnerable. They frequently suffer abuse and harassment from men who ask for sexual favours. The end result is an increase in unwanted pregnancies, thereby abruptly ending the girls’ academic pursuits,” said Mr Dawa.
The fully furnished boarding facilities were built at Rimbi, Mutandawe, Beacon Hill and Chisuma secondary schools.
The facilities accommodate 38 girls per school. Each facility boasts a stand-alone kitchen and boarding facilities. Mr Dawa said the project will be extended to other districts in the province.
US$1,5 million has already been set aside for the project.
“We are targeting rural secondary day schools where girls are walking long distances to school or are practising bush boarding. We have already secured funding to build proper boarding facilities at three other schools in Mutare District. This project was designed and funded by a German philanthropist who established the Toni Garn Foundation,” said Mr Dawa.
This is envisaged to support girls, boys and young people to access inclusive and quality education.
Chief Lovemore Mutasa also launched his book on ending child marriages, which he hopes will be used as an advocacy tool for ending child marriages.
Acting Manicaland provincial development co-ordinator Mr Edgar Seenza was the guest of honour at the event, which was also graced by Junior Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Robert Tungwarara, district development coordinators from Mutare, Mutasa, Chimanimani and Chipinge, provincial and district Government officials, Plan implementing partners, the media and Plan International Manicaland staff, including the PlZ acting head of programmes, Ms Noreen Makhurane.