Young people creating solutions and second chances
Charlene and Tanaka are providing early married women with opportunities to get an education.
HARARE, Zimbabwe - "I am ready to dedicate myself to bringing early married women in Africa back to school," Charlene Vhuta, 24, tells me at the National Youth Indaba: a two-day national forum in Harare where young people gathered to discuss their issues and concerns. The Indaba was organized in March 2019 by the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation to involve young people in the country’s development.
"I am ready to dedicate myself to bringing early married women in Africa back to school"
Charlene is promoting her project at the UNICEF exhibition stand. With co-lead Tanaka Marowa, (23) Charlene established the Charltan School, so-called by fusing their forenames. The young women came up with the idea of creating a school for adult women who missed out on an education because they married early.
The Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge
Their proposal won first prize in Zimbabwe’s Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge in December 2018. Generation Unlimited is a global public/private partnership, established to help young people succeed. The competition, supported by UNICEF, invited young Zimbabweans aged 14-24 to propose ideas and solutions to improve education, skills development and training for young people by 2030.
After being selected as finalists, Charlene and Tanaka received US$1,000 in seed money, plus mentoring and coaching to launch their idea.
“We interviewed and then recruited two full-time teachers to teach three subjects each for the students,” says Charlene. “These subjects include English, Heritage Studies, Shona language, Mathematics, General Science and Finance, which are compulsory for employment, and we also teach the women how to make washing liquid and handicraft, so they can sell these to earn an income.”
Charltan School, which opened in January 2019, has two campuses each with 20 students in the low-income areas of Chitungwiza and Epworth. Charlene’s ambition is to enroll 100. “The greatest challenge we face is that most [women] when you talk to them about coming back to school, say: I need to talk to my husband, I can’t come to school because I have to go and sell stuff.” To counter this, Charlene and Tanaka go door-to-door meeting young married women, raising awareness about the importance of education and encouraging them to attend their school.
“Dropping out of school too early due to child marriage, lacking education and training, these women do not have access to employment. Their husbands buy them everything and they lose the sense of value and independence. At the end of the day, they are abused by their husbands,” says Charlene. It’s a cycle that she’d like Charlton School to help break.
By youth, for youth.
Charlene is part of Generation Unlimited’s mission to co-create with youth, solutions that address the challenges they face and empower them to take action on issues that affect them.
As young people we can become a force of change in the world if we are given the chance to learn, work, contribute and build a better future for ourselves, our families and our world.
Don’t forget that our generation is 25 per cent of the population, but 100 per cent of the future! We want to hear from you. Come and join us and be a part of Generation Unlimited!