Sithatshisiwe Vuma, Sunday News Reporter
LEADING telecommunications entity, NetOne is set to build a state-of-the-art school in Binga’s Siachilaba’s area that will see pupils accessing Wi-Fi.
The mobile network company has initiated plans to turning Buniswa Primary School, located 60km away from Binga Centre into an education excellence centre with the construction of state-of-the-art school blocks, offices, staff and strong rooms and ICT equipment that includes computers, printers and Wi-Fi.
The entity revealed it is investing $60 million in the expansion of the school. With most rural schools lagging behind in ICT equipment, Buniswa is set to become one of the few learning centres offering the latest technology lessons.
The school, home to over 220 pupils from the previously marginalised community of Binga, is set to change the face of education in the area.
Construction has commenced and it is expected to end in four weeks. NetOne acting head of marketing and public relations, Mr Dennis Chagonda said as a corporate citizen, NetOne has a mandate to assist the Government in community building and development.
“As NetOne we seek to assist the Government in delivering equal access to education for all. As part of the United Nations ‘Leaving No One Behind’ mantra, NetOne is working towards including all communities in its developmental strategy. Buniswa Primary only has 23 sets of chairs and desks, which means more than 200 pupils spend the better part of their learning day under a tree. Covid-19 has exposed us in terms of the technology gaps between rural learners and their urban counterparts. We have in our plan as a corporate measure to reduce the gap between rural and urban learners through the provision of ICTs to make e-learning possible,” he said.
The block in question is at the foundation level with construction set to kick start in two weeks.
“In this project NetOne partnered the community of Siachilaba which has nine villages,” said Mr Chagonda.
NetOne commissioned Nachulwe Base Station in Binga early this year in an event that was graced by Vice-President Dr Constantino Chiwenga which allowed the entity’s public relations department an opportunity to identify the needs of the community.
“Once we identified the school’s shortcomings, we highlighted the issue to the relevant authorities prompting a needs assessment towards assisting the school. We thank the Ministry of Information Communication Technology Postal and Courier Services for always coming through for us and the support they give to the company. Without their support making meaningful community impact will be very difficult,” said Mr Chagonda.
NetOne acting chief executive officer Mr Raphael Mushanawani said every child has the right to education and as such NetOne is making deliberate efforts to ensure that it improves infrastructure and technologies that enable easy and smart learning.
As part of the project proposal, the NetOne team highlighted the need to source all locally available materials from in and around the region. That does not only foster community participation but also help uplift local businesses.
School headmaster Mr Tedious Mwembe said it is the first time to see a company that comes into a community and involve the relevant community leadership in all the steps of project planning and execution.
“We are short of words of describing how we feel about what NetOne has done for us. We only had one complete block with two classrooms and another one still under construction. This has made the learning and teaching process a nightmare especially under extreme weather conditions. The two classrooms had to be used by the nine classes in the school, from ECD-A to the seventh grade. Once the project is done every child will be able to learn from a proper classroom with proper furniture,” he said.