SIX students were on Friday 28 October 2022 honoured as winners of a national schools essay writing competition aimed at exposing and curbing the scourge of child marriages in Zimbabwe.
A total of 1 908 essay entries were received from six provinces namely Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Midlands. Matabeleland South had highest entries of 800 while Mashonaland Central had 483, Mashonaland East had 219, Midlands had 125, Mashonaland West had 227 while Matabeleland North had 54.
Natalie Ndlovu, a Form 5 student at Zwangendaba High School in Lupane in Matabeleland North province was selected as the National Winner and was presented with a certificate and prize money of US$150 at a prize giving ceremony held at Goromonzi High School in Mashonaland East province.
Ndlovu was also honoured as the regional winner for Matabeleland North province and got a certificate and US$100 as prize money to make her total prize money of US$250. Other regional winners were Blessed Masunga of Hama High School in Midlands province, Charity Mashasha of Gwanda High School in Matabeleland South province, Tanatswa Chafesuka
of Chifamba High School in Mashonaland Central province, Lawrence Moyo of Kutama Day High School in Mashonaland West province and Adelaide Sithole of Sengoda College in Mashonaland East province, who all got certificates and prize money.
Schools in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces did not participate in this year’s edition of the national school’s essay competition as they were already targeted in a pilot competition held in 2021.
A team of eight adjudicators who formed the judging panel concluded that the question of ending child marriages was extremely relevant as child marriages is a prevalent issue affecting Zimbabwe and the wider world and that pupils who submitted essay entries had vast knowledge on how child marriages affect children.
Speaking at the national schools essay writing competition award ceremony, Olivia Kaira, the Chief Director for primary and secondary formal and non-formal education in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, bemoaned child marriages saying they stifle economic development as children won’t develop to reach their greater heights. Kaira said child marriages are a form of forced union with under-aged children and are a violation of laid down regulations that safeguard the interests of children and had resulted in grave human
rights violations against children. These rights, Kaira said, include the right to education, the right to human dignity, freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, the right to personal security and the right to protect the best interests of the child in all matters as enshrined in the Constitution.
In her speech at the prize giving ceremony, ZLHR member Precious Chakasikwa highlighted the harmful effects of child marriages in Zimbabwe and outlined some commitments and some legal cases and other interventions, which the country’s leading legal defence group has done in a bid to stop the prevalent scourge.
The national schools essay writing competition, whose topic was “Child marriages, causes and effects. Towards ending child marriages by 2030” was organised by ZLHR and Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, targeted high school students in all non-examination classes, namely Forms 1, 2, 3 and 5.
Through the national schools essay writing competition, which was supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, ZLHR and government sought to address questions such as “the meaning of child marriages, the causes and impact of child marriages, the strategies and laws which government put in place to end child marriages,
governmental institutions and non-governmental organisations that work
to end child marriages and recommendations to end child marriages.