UNICEF and Africa University Forge Pathways for Child Rights

Story by Juliet Sithole

On Friday, February 9th, a significant milestone was reached as UNICEF solidified its second academic partnership with Zimbabwe, this time with Africa University. Building upon the successful collaboration established with Midlands State University, which has notably advanced initiatives supporting children with disabilities, this new memorandum of understanding (MOU) sets a precedent for transformative change, particularly for the children of Africa. The ceremony, attended by esteemed individuals including the UNICEF Country Representative Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale and the Vice Chancellor of Africa University, Reverend Professor Peter Mageto, symbolized a commitment to a future where children’s rights and welfare are paramount.

Reverend Professor Mageto, in his welcome address, aptly emphasized the significance of authentic partnerships that translate intentions into actions. He commended UNICEF for its dedication and expressed optimism about the potential of this collaboration. Indeed, the essence of this ceremony lies not merely in the signing of documents, but in the formalization of a shared vision and the acceleration of joint efforts towards meaningful impact.

Dr. Oyewale echoed this sentiment, recognizing Africa University’s steadfast commitment to child rights evidenced by initiatives such as the Child Rights Research Centre. He lauded the institution’s progression from concept to full postgraduate programs, producing graduates effecting change not only locally but globally. This unwavering dedication positions Africa University as a leader in child rights research and development, a testament to its invaluable contribution.

The signing of the MOU marks the inception of a collaborative journey aimed at promoting research, generating evidence, and influencing policies to benefit children not only in Zimbabwe but across the continent. It underscores the collective strength derived from partnerships and aligns with national agendas such as Education 5.0 and the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).

UNICEF recognizes academia, particularly Africa University, as a crucial ally in fostering innovation and pioneering approaches to child development. The MOU represents more than a mere commitment on paper; it signifies the unlocking of limitless potential inherent in every student, each a potential catalyst for positive change.

Dr. Tendai Nhenga, Dean for the School of Law, highlighted the tangible outcomes of this partnership, including scholarships and grants benefiting numerous students and the establishment of the Child Right Research Centre. Looking ahead, the partnership aims to deepen collaboration in areas such as qualitative research, social cash transfer programs, and addressing the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations.

Dr. Tendai Nhenga , Dean of the School of Law

As Clara Kamwara, a Master’s student in Child Rights and Childhood Studies, expressed gratitude for the opportunities afforded by UNICEF, it became evident that this partnership is not merely transactional but transformative. Through collaborative advocacy and evidence-based initiatives, Africa University and UNICEF are poised to shape policies that will create a better world for Africa’s children.

The MOU between Africa University and UNICEF represents a significant stride towards realizing the rights and welfare of children. It embodies a shared commitment to excellence, innovation, and above all, the belief that by working together, we can create a brighter future for generations to come.