Stakeholder update: October 07

As we gear ourselves towards the advent of a wireless network in Binga, activities have shifted to focus more on capacity building of the human resources in the district. A number of workshops have been run focusing on the Information and Technology Centre (ITC) teachers, heads of schools and the community. More workshops are yet to come. On the cultural front, the chilimba dance is being revived by old women who last participated in the dance as young girls, while in Siachilaba young boys and girls are learning how to make baskets and to blow the nyele horn.

2.1    Advisory Board Meeting

The Tonga.Online advisory board meeting feed back meeting on the feasibility study on Internet connectivity and organisation and human e-readiness was convened on the 1st of October 2007 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
The constitution of the board was finally adopted and some key issues relating to setting up of the wireless network were tackled and advise given to Tonga.Online.

Showing Advisory board members in a meeting, From left to Right:- Dr. S.B. Mangena, Mr .M. Dlamini, Mr. P. Muzamba (in attendance), Mr. A. Dube and Mr. S.K Mudimba.

The board forwarded the following advise.

  • Activities constituting each stage of the Tonga.Online ICT development model should clearly be detailed in the document for evaluative purpose in the future.
  • It was suggested that Tonga.Online approaches the Telone management to inform them that the project is a community development project so that tariffs charged to Tonga.Online for the use of towers are deliberately made low.
  • Tonga.Online was should liaise with all regulatory bodies so that the wireless project complies with all laws that govern the telecommunications industry.
  • Tonga.Online was also advised to follow all government policies and regulations, especially Ministry of Education regulations to avoid conflicting with government efforts.
  • To ensure availability and high service quality of network, Tonga.Online was advised to look into power backup issues at all stages and redundancy.
  • Tonga.Online was encouraged to conduct more sensitisation and training activities to enhance support of the project by the stakeholders and the community at large.
  • The ICT infrastructure should also be rolled out to Primary Schools and key social services such as the Police, Veterinary Service, Health, AREX etc.
  • Tonga.Online was advised to do gender sensitisation at all levels of project implementation.
  • Tonga.Online was also advised to brief state Security agents on all plans and development to avoid misunderstandings during implementation.
  • To enhance continuity of the project activities, Tonga.Online should look for other donors rather than being solely dependent on one donor.
  • All project activities should be properly planned and realistically time framed.
  • Consistent feed back should made to keep the board members and key stakeholders appraised of the progress attained.

 3.0    IT CENTRES
3.1    Binga High ITC.

Mr Stanford Muchineripi, who was the IT head of department at Binga ITC abdicated from the Ministry of Education for greener pastures. This unprecedented brain drain or exodus of teachers with special skills has been fuelled by the harsh economic conditions currently prevailing in the country. We wish him the best of luck where ever he goes. The district is now proud of having two (2) qualified IT teachers. This is an unhealthy situation for the promotion and delivery of IT services in the district.

Amid the staff turn over, training for both the community and the school pupils continued at the ITC being spearheaded by BZ Siasweka. For the period under review a total number of 15 community members (5 females and 10 males) and 736  pupils (326  females and 315 males were trained in the following aspects spreadsheet, ICT concept, publisher and database.

Table 3.1- Community training statistics to date.

Month  Jan  Feb Mar Apr May  Jun  Jul Aug Sep Oct  Total
 Male  8 10  28  56 
 Female  0  8  0  0  0  0  2  2  3  23


Cumulative community training statistics

 The internet services are still offered at the centre using the slow dial up system. Hopefully with the implementation of the wireless network the problem of congestion will be a thing of the past.

3.3    Siachilaba ITC

Siachilaba ITC started the 4th quarter on a high notch. A number of training activities were lined up for the quarter namely the training of government heads of department, Campaign for Girl Child Education (CAMFED) Coordinators and Women group, teaching primary school pupils the Ngoma Buntibe dance among other things. During the months under review, the ITC conducted training for stakeholders focusing on the government heads of departments (ZRP, SDC, AREX, women Affairs). This training was designed to give incumbents basic computer skills in view of setting  a foundation for e-governance. Complimentary to the stakeholders training was a course for (CAMFED) coordinators and one (1) female teacher on computer literacy.

Training which covered the following topics :

•    Open office word processing
•    Open office spreadsheet
•    Open office presentation

The stastics of the community members trained during the period being reviewed as shown below.

Sex    No trained
Female    3
Male    6
Total    9

The pupils training is also in progress. Statistically, there are 786 pupils (413 boys and 373
 girls) that are under going training in basic computer skills.

3.3.1  Cultural activities

Simonga group leader, Jossam Munkuli has started  teaching the Siachilaba Primary School junior ngoma buntibe group members on how to blow nyele using reeds for horns. Girls are keen to learn how to blow the nyele (horn) and to play the different types of drums.

3.4    Syanzyundu

Like other ITCs in the district, training was also ongoing at the school. A total of 606 pupils were being trained in computers. One male community member was imparted with the  basic computer skills. The computers at the centre are failing to effectively and efficiently operate on the Linux operation system owing  to the small ram and capacity. This problem has led  to unprecedented or continuous breakdown of computers at the centre was experienced.

In light of the experienced problem, there is need to upgrade the ITC with computers with adequate capacity to operate on the Linux operation system.  

3.5    Sinazongwe
3.5.1    Sinazongwe ITC

Training for 625 (367 females and 256 males) school pupils was in progress. Fours (4) and 1community member also were received training in computer basic skills during the period under review. The centre is currently operating with reduced numbers of computers because three (3) of them are down.  

3.5.2    Tonga.Onair-Community Radio Station.

The broadcasting licence is still awaited from the Educational Broadcasting Section of the Ministry of Information. The issue of the licence will then facilitate the opening of a bank account for the radio station and broadcasting of events in the District. In the meantime, the radio station was allowed to broadcast overnight for the independence festivities in Zambia.

3.6    Kariangwe ITC

A meeting was held with Kariangwe High School to come up with a solution regarding to electrification and setting up of the ITC management committee. The Committee was formed and it is the first in the district that is being chaired by a female. At that meeting, it was agreed that the school will renovate the room set aside for the computer centre, while assistance has been sort from Tonga.Online to assist with electrification. A list of electrical equipment requirements was drawn up with the assistance of Mr Nyoni of ZESA and quotations sort.

3.7     Lusulu ITC.

The computers at Lusulu High school were serviced during this period. Out of16 computers that are in the centre only six (6) were working and the rest were down due to varied problems. Tonga.Online managed to repair  six (6) to raise the number of working computers to twelve (12). The remaining four (4) computer have major technical faults that require some spares.

3.8    Tyunga Secondary School

Tonga.Online with assistance from Rotary club Linz intends to setup a solar run information Technology Centre (ITC) at Tyunga Secondary School. The major challenge faced with this project is the unprecedented thefts of panel currently taking place in the district. As way of tackling the challenge, a tripartite meeting between Tonga.Online, ZRP and the representatives from Tyunga community was held to discuss the security issues at Tyunga in light of the intended setting up of a solar system to power up an ITC at the school. Various options are being explored by the community as far as the security of the solar system was concerned.

3.8.1    Follow up meeting on the Rotary Belmont and Rotary LINZ linkages

A follow up meeting was held on the 14h of October, 2007 with Dr Bhala, a member and past president of the rotary club, Belmont. The purpose of the meeting was  to establish the response of Rotary Club, Belmont regarding the creation of some links with the rotary club, LINZ, in Austria. At the meeting it was established that the two Rotaries had not communicated their intentions with each other. This linkage is meant to facilitate the funding of a solar powered ITC at Tyunga by the Rotary Club Linz.

Two participants from the free lessons on scripting for radio have continued to consult as they develop their scripts and type them at Binga IT centre. One member of a local  music group is also developing a script for a musical video, while another member of the community is developing a script for a short play. The challenges of video equipment are, however, hindering progress in some of the activities.

The studio is also assisting a member of the community in computer graphics using corel draw, while a young lady is doing some lessons on playing the keyboard. Access for musicians to practice, particularly in the evenings and weekends is ongoing.

On the other hand, the studio provided a competition piece for the Tinde Schools Cluster to run choral competitions and facilitated a workshop to build capacity in the Tinde cluster on “choral adjudication and choir training”.

4.2    A focus on culture.

The Nchilibwe dancing group was brought to the studio to watch a video that was recorded of them singing and dancing chiliimba. The group was then taken to siachilaba where they spent the day interacting and dancing with the siachilaba chiliimba group as a way of local networking. This type of local cultural exchange is set to be further developed with the inclusion of more groups from around the district in future events such the International Culture Day. This day is being planned to be co-hosted by Tonga.Online, Basilwizi Trust and Zimbabwe Decentralised Cooperation (ZDCP). The first planning meeting to discuss roles to be executed by each organisation in preparation for the event has been set for the 19th of November, 2007.


Nchiilibwe Dancing Group at Siachilaba for the local cultural exchange

4.3    Ring Tone Project
The requisite cables for this project were purchased and presently, any phone with blue tooth capabilities, motorola C216 and several nokia phone models can get Tonga ringing tones for free from the studio.

5.0    Local capacity building.

In line with the Tonga.Online’s Policy to develop local capacity, advertisements were flighted around the district for two (2) studio trainees and four (4) IT Technician Trainee. The interviews for the IT Technician trainees were held on the  22nd of October, 2007 whilst the interviews to select two Studio trainees are scheduled to take place on the 12th of November, 2007. The following people were recruited for the technician training, Miss Luyando Mugande, Mrs Elina Muleya, Mr Francis Munga and Mr Oscar Nyathi. The incumbents will start their training on the 1st of November, 2007. These trainees will undergo a two year training programme on a full time basis.

6.0    Workshops and Meetings

Several meetings and workshops were held during this period to give feedback on the feasibility study and to develop capacity of the ITCs. The workshops and meeting were the stakeholders feedback workshop

6.1    Stakeholders Feedback Workshop

This was held on the 21st September, 2007 at Tusimpe Pastoral Centre to give feedback to key stakeholders, Head of departments and Heads of schools with computers on the feasibility study. A total number of 22 people attended the workshop. The workshop analysed the feasibility report and gave their input which was incorporated into the feasibility study document.  Some of the attendees having some group discussions.


Group Three (3)From Left to Right, Mr. SJ Mudimba (Manjolo Primary School), Mr. DS. Munkuli ( Ministry of Education Sports and Culture) Mr. W. Madiowepera (Ministry of Youth Development and Employment Creation), Mr. F. Mberikwazo (Lake Navigation), Mr. E. Mungande (Binga RDC) and Mr. D. Sinampande (Public Service Commission)
Group Four (4). From Left to Right, Mr. BB Munkuli (Binga RDC), Mr. S. Munsaka (Headmaster Tyunga Secondary School), Ms. T. Sianyuka (Tonga.Online Admin Clerk and Trainer), Mr AS Dube ( Head Binga Primary School), and Mr AP. Chiutsu (Deputy Head Binga High School)

 Issue of paramount importance which emerged during the discussions were:-

  • Tonga.Online should address the security concerns as demanded by the recently enacted Information Monitoring Act.
  • developing comprehensive mechanisms for treating gender issues in all  programmes.
  • The development of sufficient quantities (and quality) of ICT skills in a district must be given a very high priority.  The approach must consider exposure of students to information and communication technologies from the elementary through the tertiary levels.  
  • The implementation phase needs to be clearly spelt out with concrete dates to assist stakeholders and users and to measure tangible impacts.
  • Stakeholder must be appraised of the progress attained through a similar forum.

 6.2    ITC Conference.

The first ITC conference was held at Binga High School on the 18th of October and was attended by 21 participants, one from each IT centre. The major thrust of this workshop was for IT teachers to share experiences and ideas on operations of the centres. The Binga Information and Technology Centre Association (BITCA) was born out of this workshop. This brain wave was incepted with a purpose of coordinating ITC activities in the District. The Association is being chaired by Binga High School and its constitution is currently being worked on.

6.3    ITC Managers Workshop.

The workshop for School heads and IT teachers was held from the 18th to 19th of October. 2007 at Tusimpe Pastoral, Binga. Issues of managing an ITC were thrashed out and the ITC teachers presented the Binga Information and Technology Centre Association (BITCA) to the heads of schools, who came out in support of the association. Each ITC was tasked with creating content for putting up on the website from its surrounds. The articles are expected to reach Tonga.Online office by mid November for uploading on the website.

7.0    Staff Capacity building
7.1    1 Million PC Campaign workshop

The project Director attended a Schoolnet workshop on the 1Million PC Campaign in Windhoek, Namibia from the 8th to the 10th of October, 2007. The 1 million PC campaign for Africa is a programme that was designed to deploy refurbished computer to Africa. The campaign is a SchoolNets Africa invention that was incepted in September 1999 following the realisation that with the advancement in technology, millions of computers would be decommissioned in the developed countries. The campaign therefore sought to raise awareness of the need to mobilise stakeholders, partners and the donor community to assist to source and ship the computers to respective Africa countries with operating SchoolNets.  The workshop was designed to:

  • Review the KPN Donation and use lessons learnt to improve participants skills in conducting ICT hardware and software sourcing, importation refurbishment and deployment to the beneficiaries/end user.
  • To build an overall ongoing picture of school networking activities on the African continent.
  • To address Project Management issues with emphasis on good planning and leadership as key success.
  • Renew commitment to the One Million Campaign and map out new strategies for its promotion and management.
  • Explore opportunities for new funding and partnerships
  • Strengthen communication and collaboration among the SchoolNets across the continent.

 7.2     Media Studies.

The Artistic and Communications Officer has enrolled for the media studies programme with the Zimbabwe Open University.

8.    Migration to Free Open Source Software (FOSS)

The Binga Craft Centre has been installed with edubuntu, a FOSS software. This move was taken after the organisation had experienced frequent breakdowns of the computer, mainly caused by viruses. A meeting has been planned for the heads of organisations to discuss issues of piracy and software licensing.

9.    Documentation.

Tonga.Online printed 200 brochures for distribution to the stakeholders and the community. The brochures contains information on about Tonga.Online in terms of its aims, objectives and activities.

10.    Relocation to the Library

The contract to move the Tonga.Online Office to library was signed and sealed in September, 2007 between Tonga.Online and Binga Rural District Council (Local Authority). Currently the project is making preparations to move to the Library. In this, we would like to thank the RDC for granting us the usage of a spacious building.

11.    Harare wireless project- Networking

Tonga.Online visited the Harare wireless project on the 12th October, 2007. This networking visit was designed for Tonga.Online to have an practical insight of a wireless  system in preparation for the oncoming Binga wireless project. The project was being implemented by Connect Africa in collaboration with Zarnet as Internet Service Provider and  Powertel as data carrier. The project got a temporary permit,through Zarnet, from Potraz to use the  2.4Ghz band for the experimental period of One Year Only. The permit expires on the 31st of December 2007. At the time of the visit, the project had managed to connect one Highfield Secondary School, the school is about 2km from the Powertel access point.

12.    Feasibility Study Report.

Taking into account that all the feed back meetings for stakeholders and partners on the feasibility study were accomplished, Tonga.Online is currently finalising the report by incorporating comments/ suggestions/ recommendations and advise from the Advisory Board and Stakeholders.  

13.    General Conditions

The months of September and October have been very hot, with temperatures ranging from 38-40 degrees Celsius. The environment is also very dry. Communication challenges have been experienced during the period due to the congestion of the analog phone system.

Be blessed            

Compiled by:    Pottar Muzamba- Project Director Tonga.Online