Sharon Chimenya, Masvingo Correspondent
THE National AIDS Council of Zimbabwe in Masvingo, has pledged to pay school fees for 1 500 pupils from five districts through its Determined, Resilient, Empowered, Aids Free, Mentored, Safe (DREAMS) programme this year.
The programme is targeting to keep young girls in school, reduce early and unintended pregnancies. It is among progrmmes the organisation is implementing to end Aids by 2030. Speaking in an interview, Masvingo NAC provincial manager Mr Agrippa Zizhou said the programme was being implemented in five districts which are Bikita, Chiredzi, Chivi, Masvingo Rural and Mwenezi.
“DREAMS is a programme that is targeting adolescent girls and young women between the ages 10 and 24 who are vulnerable and are at high risk of getting HIV/Aids. The main objective is to educate, empower and emancipate the girls through trained volunteer methods on sexual reproductive health, life skills, comprehensive sexual education and related aspects,” he said.
Mr Zizhou said the programme will enroll 300 learners in each of the five districts bringing it to a total of 1 500 with 365 learners being enrolled in Primary school level and 1 135 in Secondary school level. He said Chiredzi will enroll 125 learners at primary level and 175 at secondary level.
“In Bikita 30 children will be enrolled in primary schools while 270 will be registered at secondary level, Chivi will enroll 150 primary and 150 at secondary schools. Masvingo Rural will enroll 300 learners in secondary schools and Mwenezi will enroll 60 in primary schools and 240 learners in secondary schools. This model is mandated to end Aids by 2030 as we try to keep the girl child in school. If we are to keep them in school the exposure to HIV will be reduced, teenage pregnancies will be reduced, the reporting of sexual abuse will increase because these children will have been empowered,” said Mr Zizhou.
Meanwhile, the province has also rolled out the Sister to Sister programme which focuses on young women who are out of school with the aim of getting them back into school.
“The Sister to Sister programme is being rolled out in Chivi, Masvingo Rural, Gutu, Bikita and Zaka. The aim is to enhance self-efficacy of young women to access, utilise integrated HIV prevention, sexual reproductive health and gender based violence by empowering them to make responsible reproductive health decisions that is in terms of delaying sexual debut, standing up against child marriages and reduction of teen pregnancies and reportage of sexual abuse,” he said.