PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday officially opened the Amai Mugabe Junior School in Mazowe where he implored stakeholders in the education sector to safeguard Zimbabwe's status as a nation with the highest literacy rate in Africa.
The school is a brainchild of the First Lady, Amai Mugabe, through the Grace Mugabe Foundation, and was constructed with the assistance of a grant from the Chinese government.
The ceremony was attended by several ministers, Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Lin Lin and parents of pioneer students.
"Amai Mugabe's efforts, combined with those of Government and other NGOs involved in education, should create in us a need to jealously guard the gains we have made in the sector.
"According to the UN, in 19 out of 48 African countries, education poverty is over 30 percent.
Zimbabwe's education poverty is the lowest at 2,8 percent. If there are children who are still illiterate it means there are areas which have not been visited by our education system and it is the duty for every one of us to hunt for these hidden areas."
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said the First Lady's efforts should also be seen in the light of the ongoing empowerment programmes.
"We also celebrate this day in the realm of black empowerment. At independence, Government embarked on a focused and dynamic programme to overcome the lack of resources, unqualified staff, mediocre syllabi and dilapidated learning facilities which were purposefully designed to ensure that blacks never fully realised their potential."
President Mugabe commended the First Lady for her resilience.
"I want to quickly add that it is a happy day for our whole family, who have followed and helped their dear mother as she determinedly pressed on with the project that today is our pride.
"I can assure you that the First Lady invested large amounts of time and study on this project. Ini ndinonyanyo nonoka kubva kubasa asi ndakazoona vavakunonokawo, ndikati zvino tikanonoka kuuya tose anozobikira mumwe sadza ndiani?"
He said the First Lady did not abandon her goals even when the going was tough.
"Once she has set her mind on something, she can never be changed. Ini ndaitoti hatingachinje pakati nepakati ivo voti aiwa, that is how she is."
The school is adjacent to the Children's Home, another project spearheaded by the First Lady.
The children are housed in homes with foster parents to ensure a normal upbringing.
"The children have foster parents who look after them and raise them in a way that resembles a typical family life.
"It was my wife's observation that children should not be made to feel like inmates in a correctional facility, but rather be given the warmth, love and guidance synonymous with growing up in a normal family environment."
President Mugabe commended Anhui Foreign Economic Construction company for completing the project in a space of a year and two months.
He said the Chinese company, that also built the National Defence College in record time, should be emulated by all Zimbabweans.
In her address, Amai Mugabe said she was motivated to invest in education due to her experiences of the discriminatory Ian Smith education system.
"In my early days as a girl determined to get a good education, I used to be overwhelmed by the numbers of children who were denied access to quality education. Racial segregation as we may all know, played havoc with our educational system," she said.
The First Lady said white children enjoyed quality education that made them look superior to their black counterparts.
She said this was meant to reinforce the stereotype that blacks were inferior.
"Today gives me great delight as I formally introduce the Amai Mugabe School, itself a fitting testimony of black empowerment, again synonymous with the party headed by my dear husband, Zanu PF.
"Indeed, the success of the school in various ways attests to the support and encouragement given by the President, our children and a number of well-wishers, all driven by a belief in this country and its potential," she said.
The First Lady said the school would strive to provide quality education.
"Today as we witness the official handover of this school to the Amai Mugabe Foundation, I wish to stress that the children you leave in our care will receive education and instructions in the values that will make them well-rounded and able leaders of tomorrow," Amai Mugabe said.
The school opened its doors at the beginning of the year and has over 100 pupils.
The state-of-the-art school provides a wide range of subjects and activities that include art, computer studies and Chinese and a wide range of sporting disciplines.
Ambassador Lin commended Zimbabwe for investing in the education sector.
He said it was the high literacy levels in Zimbabwe that enabled it to ride the challenges caused by illegal sanctions imposed by the West.
Meanwhile, chiefs from Mashonaland Central donated a number of cattle, goats and sheep to the First Family for spearheading the investment in the province.