One of Zimbabwe’s largest Telecoms Mobile Company, NetOne, is building a modern school in the Siachilaba area of Binga, Matabeleland North Province, as part of its policy on giving back to society.
NetOne corporate social investment strategy is broad, targeting areas such as education, health, community empowerment, care initiatives, installation of base stations in marginalised communities and environmental protection. One such initiative is the renovation of the Gwanda Provincial Hospital Theatre whose process has already begun.
Bunsiwa Primary School, located 60km from Binga Centre, is a home for over 220 students from the previously marginalised community of Binga and will have ICT equipment, wi-fi and printers, all from NetOne. Under its Corporate social investment portfolio, NetOne says it has a mandate to assist marginalised communities. For NetOne, Bunsiwa is one such community, hence the move to build the school.
NetOne acting head of marketing and public relations Mr Dennis Chagonda said as a corporate citizen, they have a mandate to assist the Government in community building and development, in line with the drive to attain an upper middle class economy by 2030. “As NetOne, we seek to assist the Government in delivering equal access to education for all,” said Mr Chagonda. “As part of the Government and United Nations mantra of ‘leaving no one behind’, NetOne is working towards including all communities in its developmental strategy. “Bunsiwa Primary has a population of over 220 students but has only 23 sets of chairs and desks. “This means about 200 students have nothing to use and spend a better part of their learning day under a tree.”
NetOne has since committed to assisting the community by constructing state-of-the-art classroom blocks, offices, staff and strong rooms at Bunsiwa Primary, and providing ICT equipment such as computers, printers and Wi-Fi. Said Mr Chagonda: “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 through the provision of ICTs to make e-learning possible. “The block in question is at the foundation level with construction set to kick start in less than two weeks. “In this project, NetOne partnered the community of Siachilaba which has nine villages.”
NetOne commissioned the Nachulwe base station in Binga earlier this year at an event officiated by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga. It was then that NetOne public relations officials identified the need for a modern school in the community. The issue was then escalated to relevant authorities, prompting a needs assessment towards assisting the school. Mr Chagonda thanked the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, for always supporting them, and the support they give to the company. “Without their support, making meaningful community impact will be very difficult,” he said. As part of the project proposal, NetOne will source all available materials from the area and the region so as to foster community participation, and also uplift local businesses.
“We have ensured that all materials which can be found within the community are sourced from the community to allow for full community participation. Materials not found locally will be sourced elsewhere within the region,” said Mr Chagonda. NetOne acting CEO Mr Raphael Mushanawani said every child has the right to education, hence the deliberate efforts by NetOne to ensure that it improves infrastructure and technologies that enable easy and smart learning. “I have a team of young and energetic practitioners who are ready to go into the community and make a lasting impact. This project is one of many that will be completed within record-breaking time,” said Mr Mushanawani.
The school head, Mr Tedious Mwembe who hails from the area, said this was the first time they had seen a company visiting the community and involving 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 Grade 7.
“Once the project is done, every child will be able to learn from a proper classroom with proper furniture,” he said