With sacrificing family resources to educate a girl child and a potential future leader still a big societal challenge, any effort to see the education of a girl is a huge boon. So when millions of dollars are poured into the effort, the impact cannot be overemphasised. The Campaign for Female Education (Camfed), introduced some few years back, has seen remarkable change of fortunes to many a rural folk.
Now, a US$19 million bursary programme has been launched to benefit 24 000 girls from disadvantaged families in rural Guruve, Mashonaland Central. The launch was conducted at colourful ceremony at Chifamba Secondary School in the area recently.
With testimonies of previous beneficiaries of the programme giving the clear picture of changed lives, more girls are set to change for the better. Already, lives have changed and tales are being told. More are coming, definitely.
Twenty-five-year-old Bridget Moyo was born in the dusty village of Wedza in a polygamous family.
Her mother sired six children and the other children under the genealogy of her father are incalculable. She needs to sit down and count them from her father's first wife until the last.
Being a girl on a polygamous family, she was not spared from challenges women as a whole face. From birth she was automatically rendered a future beggar.
Her education was considered optional and it was the first thing to be sacrificed in a crisis.
Her brothers, uncles and male cousins' needs had to come first for the family.
The family's future was seen to be in their hands and blood, so it was to them that the family's resources should be spent primarily.
As if that was not enough, the family was so much immersed in poverty. School fees and levies were a luxury they could only dream of and there wasn't enough for the family to eat.
"I lost count of how many other people's fields we worked in to make ends meet with my mother. It was not unusual for people to approach my mother and offer me a job as their housemaid," Bridget said.
She said it was very tragic in that some people had the audacity to exchange her labour services with a bucket of maize a month.
"I am a proud member of the Johane Marange Apostolic Sect and my growing up in the church came with benefits and challenges.
"I feel at home when at church where I am accepted with expectations like other girls who have to get married at a tender age."
"In my teenage years, I was only supposed to dream about the kind of husband I was going to marry. Even if it meant dropping out of school, I did not drop out until I attained my university degree," Bridget went on to narrate her ordeal.
The turning point in Bridget's life came after she got a bursary before attending secondary education.
"In primary school I vividly remember being nominated a prefect before the school authorities reversed the decision because I did not have a school uniform.
"I never had a worry about the strategy to use to sneak back into classroom after being sent home on numerous occasions to collect the fees . Currently I am a holder of Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Business Management and Entrepreneurship," she said.
This is not the only sad tale about girls who rise from invisibility to visibility after attaining education. Another is Talent Tokoda, who grew up as an orphan and single child.
Talent was born and bred in Chivhu, where her mother took care of all the family needs.
"It was a nightmare getting shoes or having a proper uniform. I struggled through primary school to completion but fortunately I passed with five units which are a sharp contrast to the struggles I went through."
"Time to enrol for secondary education came and my hope was like a dim light at the far end of a tunnel which could turn off anytime. A week before I was supposed to go to secondary school, I neither had school fees nor secured a place at any school."
"I could spend the whole day in the garden with my mother. I got the surprise of my life when I was told that my fees were going to be paid for until I complete Advanced Level," Talent said in front of the dumbfounded crowd.
She passed Advanced Level and was enrolled at the University of Zimbabwe where she is doing her final year studying for a Bachelor in Medicine and Surgery.
"I am proud that I proved to doomsayers that I can achieve any goal men can achieve. In August next year I will be a qualified medical doctor," Talent said in front of the cheering crowd.
This mirrors how the personality can be moulded to greatness. Guruve District's pass rate is pegged at 25 percent with the national pass rate sitting at 21 percent.
Assisting the girl child with resources will help improve the pass rate at rural schools.
For example, at Chifamba Secondary School the pass rate for girls is pegged at 10 percent.
Research revealed that in Sub-Saharan Africa, 24 million girls cannot afford to go to school and as a result a girl may marry as young as 13.
Camfed executive director for Zimbabwe and Malawi, Ms Angeline Murimirwa said it is vital to improve educational access, progression and completion for marginalised secondary school girls.
"The coverage of bursaries will span for four years in 28 rural districts including resettlement areas. The other money will provide a package of support to schools, training of school development committees and support for parents to enable children currently out of school to enrol," she said.
Ms Murimirwa said it is imperative to enhance participation of women in national activities from district level.
"Most secondary school girls drop out of school opting to get married or as a result of lacking financial support.
"Organisations need to cherish marginalised communities and the idea that women constitute a greater percentage to the national population," she said.