First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa yesterday expressed concern over the high number of school dropouts in Mashonaland Central, which is the highest in the country. Some of the causes of school dropouts that were highlighted were early marriages, drug and substance abuse, lack of schools and gold panning.
The First Lady, who held an interactive session with pupils from Mashonaland Central's seven districts at Chipadze High School, said she was aware of the issues that the pupils had to contend with.
"I know that adolescents think that adults do not understand them and what they will be going through. I know what it feels like to think that the world, especially your parents, do not understand you. I was once a girl," she said.
"If you are not careful at this age you risk losing everything and messing up your future. This is an important stage of your life, which shapes what you will become. You future depends on the decisions you make today.
"Teachings and advice from your elders is important and will get you through difficult times. Respect everyone and yourself because you come first in everything. Desist from bullying because it causes others to lose interest in school, robbing the nation of future doctors and pilots.
"I am also worried by the increase in the number of street kids, which is an indication of the breaking down of family unity," added the First Lady.
Turning to the issue of child marriages, the First Lady said she was pained by the plight of the girl child.
"These are your children, men give them time to grow. Without the girl child, we do not have a future. If you educate a daughter you educate two families."
She also expressed concern over the increase in drug abuse in rural areas.
"You see an adolescent drinking from dawn to dusk. All that time is wasted for nothing. You are killing yourself abusing cough mixtures. When we were growing up there were no such issues. How can you became a pilot or doctor when your start getting intoxicated now?" asked the First Lady.
"Education gives you knowledge and wisdom. It gives you a good perspective to look at life and wisdom to work for your country. Women need to get higher education to enable them to fight for their rights. You will also improve the lives of your family and Zimbabweans at large."
She encouraged them to work with police officers by acting as informants on drug and child abuse. Junior Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs, Susan Guni, thanked the First Lady for her wise counsel.
Mbire District was the only district that failed to attend the event.
The First Lady also availed fuel to all schools that attended the interactive event.