About the 10th National Students Conference
The National Students Conference (NSC) has become synonymous with the creation of an interface between students and policymakers. Furthermore, National Students Conferences have been safe spaces to review and realign initiatives meant to strengthen the SRH competencies of young people in Zimbabwe.
The conference will be hosted in Harare on the 9th and 10th of December 2019 bringing together students representatives from across different categories of tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe to interface with policy influencers from both state and non-state actors.
The NSC will resonate around the theme: “Youth Health, a Development Multiplier” This theme aptly sums up the narrative by most youth advocates on the need to locate young people’s health at the core of their developmental matrix. This assertion is driven by the reality that young people’s health has a bearing on their enjoyment of other rights. Furthermore, the theme acknowledges that amongst young people’s health needs, their sexuality takes up the bigger portion of their concerns. This understanding helps programmers and policymakers to mainstream young people’s sexual and reproductive health in all other youth-focused initiatives.
The 2019 NSC comes at the prime time when several national and regional health targets are folding up. Of note is the Zimbabwe Adolescents Reproductive Health Strategy (2016-2020), the Extended HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan coming to an end in 2020, the Family Planning 2020 Target and the 90-90-90 2020 targets. This diverse and robust strategic framework represents fertile ground to analyze youth development in general, being rooted in young people’s ability to make informed sexuality choices and utilize available SRH services and commodities.
In the legal framework, the 10th Edition is being hosted when Zimbabwe is fast-tracking legal reforms and alignments to the Constitution of Zimbabwe which is a result of the 2013 amendment number 19. There are several Bills undergoing review at Parliamentary and Constituency levels and such have a bearing on young people’s enjoyment of their SRHR. The annual students’ forum can be utilized to synthesize students’ inputs.
The conference is therefore designed to maximize the creativity of students to generate information sets that can be used by policymakers. In this regard, students will not be engaged with the binary lenses of vulnerability and helplessness but rather as a resource that can be used to shape sustainable responses on SRH.
The structure of the NSC
The 10TH Edition of the NSC will adopt a three-tier structure of implementation plan to be rolled out from the 9th to the 11th of December 2019. On the 9th of December 2019 the NSC will host the 2 movements of Mugota/Ixhiba/Young Men Forum and the Web for Life respectively. This 2 legged approach will create space for the 2 movements to consolidate on their key asks. Furthermore, the 2 platforms will generate lines of advocacy to be used by young women and men during the main NSC on the 10th of December. Participatory learning methodology will be central to unlock students’ ideas and proposed solutions under the Web for Life and Mugota/ Ixhiba/ Young Men`s Forum.
In the last tier of the conference, students will be mobilized collectively to engage policymakers from the two ministries of Health and Child Care and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development. Interactions and engagements in the 2 ministries are designed to achieve the two goals of enhancing their understanding and making them commit to action. In line with the 2019 theme “Youth Health, a Development Multiplier” the conference will reinforce the interlinkages of health and other developmental priorities for young people. In this regard, the NSC will open up doors to a variety of stakeholders on the 10th of December 2019.