By Duncan Mlanjira
Since its establishment in 1991, Islamic Zakaat Fund (IZF) has succeeded in financially supporting over 2,500 students towards attainment of first degrees in various fields from various institutions and over 15,000 secondary school students to realise their dreams on enrolling into tertiary education.
This was disclosed on Saturday morning by ZKF chairman, Kassim Okhai when unveiling a partnership agreement between ZKF and Malawi Relief Fund UK, which is set to invest over K900 million over a period of 4 years to provide financial support for 224 underprivileged Malawian students to complete higher tertiary education in various universities and colleges across the country.
The landmark charitable partnership was unveiled at Okhai Building in Limbe, where the first annual investment of K192,645,897 million was presented.
The programme is part of Malawi Relief Fund UK’s Talha Scholarship that was initiated by a young man Talha Valli but he tragically died in 2017 at the age of 22.
Okhai said the partnership with Malawi Relief Fund UK is centered on increasing access to higher education through the scholarship fund and to improve equity by encouraging women to enroll for tertiary education programmes.
“Another objective is to increase relevance by supporting students in enrolling for meaningful programmes likely to lead to lucrative employment, hence supporting the country’s economy,” Okhai said.
“It is also to instil spiritual, moral values and leadership skills amongst students and to discourage social responsibility through engaging in social and community programmes during students’ spare time whilst pursuing their studies.
“We are delighted with this partnership which was much needed to help Malawians from poor households access higher education.
“The key outcome from this programme is that, with the funding security through Malawi Relief Fund UK, we will ensure that the retention rates amongst students is improved.
“This partnership demonstrates how vital Islamic Zakaat Fund is towards transforming the lives of the underprivileged students by using its vast expertise to implement bursaries.
“Together with Malawi Relief Fund UK, we would like to thank the generous donors in the UK who have made this possible,” Okhai said.
Malawi Relief Fund UK’s Country Coordinator, Yakub Valli said: “The increase in the number of graduates will no doubt also provide graduates with relevant qualifications required in our economy to meet some of the skill shortages in key sectors like health, education and science.
“We have also tried to address the gender imbalance by supporting women from poor families to attain higher education.
“We hope the students will take this opportunity and complete their studies to improve their life chances and life choices,” Valli said.
Present at the unveiling ceremony were two beneficiaries, Fatimah Yunusu and Daud Amin, both first year students at the Polytechnic in Blantyre.
Yunusu is pursuing Bachelor of Arts in Business Communication while Amin is doing Bachelor of Technical education in technology at Poly
Islamic Zakaat Fund, is a registered charitable organisation with the initial aim of providing bursaries and scholarships to needy Malawian youths so that they become self-reliant and contribute to the development of their families, the community they live and the nation as a whole.
Okhai said to achieve this goal, they collect funds in form of zakaat or general donations from well wishers and channels them to support needy students with full tuition fees and living expenses.
Malawi Relief Fund UK is a Charity registered in the UK and a registered NGO in Malawi aimed at alleviating poverty in Malawi.
Since its establishment, it has been working in Central and Southern regions of Malawi for the past 10 years.
Valli said Talha was very passionate about this charity and he initiated many programmes which Malawi Relief Fund UK is maintaining as one way of honoring the young man.
“Talha was coordinating our activities here by liaising with the UK donors on which areas to assist until we came up with various programmes.
“The Charity is inspired by the Islamic teachings of selflessness and giving generously to look after the less privileged, without regard to religion or tribe affiliation, so that in doing so breaking the dependence syndrome for daily living.
“It focuses on providing humanitarian aid for the poor, providing and improving access to clean water, sanitation and decent housing.
“It also focuses on improving access to health care and support in remote areas and to improve quality education.
“It also supports the most vulnerable in particular widows, orphans and people with disabilities,” Valli said.