Stakeholders Update December 2006

The last quarter of 2006 has been a busy time of development and change, with the Tonga.Online project entering a new and exciting phase of advancement. Following and as a result of the July Strategic Planning Seminar held in Binga, two new posts were created, widely advertised, and resulted in the appointment of Mr Pottar Muzamba as Project Director in October, and Mr Richard Simango as Operations & Technical manager in November. Ms Theophorah Sianyuka remains with the project as Admin Clerk & Trainer, and Mr Sengamo Ndlovu attending Twiimbilane sound studio.

A warm welcome has been extended to the new members of staff, who have already shown their eagerness and readiness to move swiftly ahead with the new developments. Official visits and introductions were made to the District Administrator, Binga Rural District Council, Department of Education, schools and also partners on the Zambian side.

Regrettably, because of the need for a 'lean' project staffing structure and emphasis on technology in the new phase, it is with much regret that Mr David Mungombe (as coordinator) and Penny Yon (as acting Director) will be handing over and stepping down by the end of December 2006, with Penny playing a part-time liaison role for Kunzwana Trust in Harare from January. We thank them both for their good service to the project, which has brought it through some difficult periods, and ensured its survival up to this new stage. Both members are still considered to be valuable contributors to the project, and we look forward to working with them in various activities in the future.

The two student attachments who are currently based at Syanzyundu and Siachilaba ITCs, Clement Mungombe and Emelda Munkombwe, are returning to their studies with effect from January 2007, and we thank them for their contribution to the Tonga.Online project. In the course of managing their ITCs, the two students have gained tremendously in terms of hands-on experience. The project director is following up with Ministry of Education provincial office for provision of IT student-teachers to assist in this regard, and in the meantime, Ms Theo Sianyuka returns to Siachilaba from January to run the ITC again and focus on gender activities.

General Conditions Binga temperatures throughout Oct-Dec have been extremely high, with temperatures reaching 42 degrees Celsius on 04 November. This affects the operation of computers, and power cuts have reduced operational time considerably. The environment is very dry and bush fires and termites bring down wooden poles supporting power lines, which compounds the problem. We thank Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company (ZEDCO, formerly ZESA) for giving advance notice of power cuts, to minimize damage to computers. Loss of power also means no water, which makes general living conditions very harsh.

Project Vehicle October saw the acquisition of a long-awaited project vehicle, which arrived in Binga in November. The vehicle brings improved mobility to the project team, and good publicity with its distinctive markings. Familiarisation visits have already been carried out to existing T.O ITCs and other schools in the Binga district which have not been accessible until now.

Training Basic computer training continues in all three T.O ITCs, among students and community members. From 13-21 Dec, two teachers from Sinazongwe Basic School, Zambia, have been attending a specially-designed, intensive training course, which will include Basic IT concepts, preventative maintenance, management & sustainability. The aim of this training is to empower the participants with skills to enable them run the Sinazongwe centre. A special strategic planning (financial) workshop will be conducted for T.O staff in January.

Introduction training is planned for teachers from different schools in the district that have received donations of computers from the government including those schools that do not yet have electricity. Hopefully the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) will speed up the electrification of these schools.

Feasibility Study the planned Feasibility Study will now take place in the new year in close collaboration with the National University of Science and Technology / NUST in Bulawayo. The design of data collection instruments is already in progress, and necessary consultations with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) was done in December.

Binga ITC The ITC purchased a new modem, and internet service for the public was revived in October, however continuing power problems at Binga ITC have once again derailed the service. Two power supply units were blown, and the Operations & Technical manager is working with ZEDCO, to identify permanent solutions.

Twiimbilane Studio Recording and editing of music continues at the studio, and links have been made with Midlands State University Music and Musicology department for workshops with Binga musicians. A product of the studio, an eight (8) track cassette by Chisale Church Choir from Siabuwa is now available for sale in Binga. Contact person for the cassettes is Abedinico Munsaka (CADEC).

Siachlaba ITC Training at Siachilaba is ongoing but slow. Fifty percent of the ITC timetable affords training to Siachiaba students and teachers, and 50% for the community. Grade 7 students received special access to help prepare them for their move on to Siansundu Secondary or Binga High School, and the respective ITCs and further computer training. Awareness activities are ongoing in Siachilaba, and Grade 7s from neighbouring schools are slowly coming forward for introduction training, with 12 expected from Gaza, and more from Sebungwe Mouth Primary schools.

Sianzyundu ITC In this period, computer lessons continued for Form 1-3, while Form 4 students focussed on year-end study commitments and examinations. Trainer Clement Mungombe took study leave in November, when training was handled by teacher in charge of the computer department, Mr Eliya Elia Mutale, who plays an important and pivotal role in the Sianzyundu ITC.

Sinazongwe (Zambia) Extension The continued operation of Tonga.Online in Sinazongwe, now depends on the official registration of Kunzwana Trust in Zambia, which is in progress. In the meantime, Binga trainer Theo Sianyuka, who was assisting in the setup of the Sinazongwe ITC, has returned to admin/clerical duties in the T.O office and training in Siachilaba in the new year. Two teachers from Sinazongwe Basic School have been attending training in Binga in December (see above). The extension to Zambia is welcomed by the Sinazongwe community and special thanks are due to The Honourable Chief Sinazongwe, and Mr Saviour Miyanda of the Gwembe-Tonga Association which focuses on development in the valley. Local agricultural organisation Zambeef has also given valuable assistance to the project, donating 70m of armoured cable for electrification of the ITC, and providing internet access for project staff in the meantime.

Project Partners Project partner Horizont3000 continues to support the project in many ways, including acquisition of the vehicle, operational guidance and the services of Mr Uwe Allgauer. Thanks are also due to WorldLinks for their good support and donation of two monitors and two floppy drives in November. Introduction visits to these and other key stakeholders in Harare were made by the new project director. Long-time partners and friends of Batonga, AZFA has been lobbying for support on the Austrian side and took part in an NGO workshop in Vienna in November which was aiming at an exchange of lessons learned from local development projects for further Austrian development strategies.

End-of-year Shutdown 21 Dec 2006 - 03 Jan 2007. project wishes to thank all stakeholders for their valuable support during 2006 and hope that this support will continue in 2007. We therefore wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

P. Muzamba
Project Director

David Mungombe
Outoing Binga Coordinator

Coordinator project
c/o Binga High School, P Bag 5722, Binga,
Tel / fax: ++263-15-573
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