Report: Official Opening of Binga Information Technology Center

Also: see photos of event  

By wldbng Binga High School on Monday, February 18, 2002 - 07:21 pm:

Speech given by WorLD Links National Coordinator : Mr.E. Gudza on the occasion of the launch of the Binga High School Information Centre on 15th February 2002

I am greatly honoured to have this opportunity to say a few remarks on this historic occasion: The official opening of the Binga High School Information Centre established through support from the Austrian Zimbabwe Friendship Association (AZFA). The fruition of this Centre comes after nearly two years of collaboration between AZFA, Binga High School, the local community and World Links Zimbabwe. The Chairman of AZFA Mr. Peter Kuthan approached World Links at a time we were piloting the Telecentre concept for the first time in Zimbabwe. Under this pilot we set up 12 school and community based Telecentres in all nine provinces of the country. The Telecentres were received with enthusiasm at all levels and we were convinced that Telecentres rather than the conventional school computer lab were the way to go for both sustainability and community involvement.

Historically the Telecentre concept itself is relatively still a new idea, the first known Telecentre having been opened in 1985 in Sweden. From there the idea spread to Canada, Western Europe, South America and now is being adopted in Africa, Latin America and Asia. In all these cases the basic start-up reason for each center appears to be a response to community telecommunication needs. We can safely say that the ability to communicate lies at the heart of human development. Thus this centre opens new doors and a new world for the people in this school and the surrounding community. Using the Internet you will be communicating, learning sharing, exchanging and working together with people in other parts of our country, our continent and the world at large. This is one of World Links« major concerns: linking students to students, classes to classes, teachers to teachers and communities to communities.

Put in another way World Links« mission is to maximise educational and economic opportunities for people especially Youths through e-learning. This is being achieved by working hand in hand with the Ministry of Education, Sport Culture who have provided full teachers time teachers to teach in 70 plus centers countrywide that we have jointly established. Therefore the decision by AZFA to partner with World Links Zimbabwe was indeed an informed and timely decision. Our partnership is growing from strength to strength and this was demonstrated when Big Blue, our mobile computer classroom was deployed in Binga area as if to give the locals a taste of things to come. During that tour the Van covered Binga High School in particular and in May 2001 and the first Internet connectivity was achieved right in this school. The success of that event strengthened the vision of AZFAâs vision to establish a computer lab at Binga and then hand over for adoption as a World Links Telecentre.

I am glad to inform you that World Links Zimbabwe has have agreed to adopt Binga High as a WorLD Centre and the Ministry has promised to act swiftly to ensure that staffing requierments are met. I do not want to pre-empty the promises of the Ministry of Education Sport and Culture represented here by the Regional Director Mr. D. Moyo and other senior officers from the Regional Office in Bulawayo. However I need to say that with the level of support that this project has received from the Regional Directorate, and World Links, success is not just possible but guaranteed.

Allow me to take a few minutes to tell you more about the World Links for Development Programme, that Binga IT Center will henceforth become part of. World Links Zimbabwe is part of the World Links for Development (WorLD Programme) whose mandate is promoting the use of information and communication technology in education and facilitating cultural understanding among youth across nations through on-line collaborative projects. The programme was born out of the desire by James D Wolfenson, President of the World Bank, for a partnership for creating and sharing knowledge and making a major driver for development. The dream is of a global knowledge partnership that is not about machines but about people.

Established in 1997, the WorLD Programe is currently underway in 22 countries, including several in Africa (i.e. Botswana, Cape Verde, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe) and others in Latin America, Middle East and Asia. In all these countries the programme links students and teachers in secondary schools with their counterparts in industrialized countries for collaborative research, teaching and learning programs, via e-mail the Internet and the World Wide Web. In short the WorLD Programme tries to:

.. help establish a global learning network linking thousands of youths and educators around the world.

Through its training programmes and activities, World Links hopes to: Improve and expand educational opportunities and horizons for students and members of their community; To prepare youth to develop skills to effectively enter a global economy based on knowledge and information and to build bridges among the leaders of tomorrow -- bridging the digital divide.

So much so for the International perspective, back home, World Links-Zimbabwe was launched in late 1998 and was proactively supported by the countryâs Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture as a leading ICT in Education initiative. The programme started with twelve Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Centres at least one in each of the nine provincial capitals and three others in high growth peri-urban and rural communities. Today the programme boasts of 42 community and school-based Telecentres of which Binga High School Telecenter becomes the 43rd.

In addition to the fixed centers we established Big Blue, mentioned earlier, the Mobile Van that forms our 44th center. Big Blue provides exposure and access to ICTs at places that do not have infrastructure such as electricity. Put simply Big Blue is a computer classroom on wheels with capacity to deliver Internet and E-mail services through dial-up or other new connectivity technologies, which I believe our honorable Minister here present has powers to avail if not to all but to schools for educational purposes only. I am proud to inform you that Big blue was awarded a place in the to 100 out of 842 projects that were submitted for the 2001 Stockholm Challenge as one of the projects having a positive impact on the lives of people through the use of ICTs.

Staff development constitutes a very important part of the WorLD programme. Teachers who are appointed to Centres such as this undergo regular training in various aspects such as Computer skills training, Integrating the appropriate use of Computers and Internet resources across the curriculum, etc. This is done through a series of four one-week workshops that are conducted once every six moths. In the end both teachers and students in surrounding schools benefit as they will receive training from the staff developed WorLD teachers. A community with a World Links center is therefore a developing community and AZFA has just helped Binga be just that. To Peter and all the members of the AZFA both in Zimbabwe and in Austria we say Thank you.

To the Head of Binga High School, Mr. Nucbe and the surrounding schools and community we say a challenge has been placed in your hands. Here is a good resource, but how are you going to use it? That is a question you must answer. The success of your Telecenter rests on the shoulders of the centre management committee that you will form. The membership of this committee should reflect the stakeholders of the center and cooperation and participation by the community will be a critical factor.

Whatever you choose to do, I am here to assure you that you have our support and through e-mail, phone and fax, you will be just as near to us as anybody else. What you have here are the first footprints on a long trail long trail to development, greater cultural awareness leading to self-actualization and international visibility!

On our part World Links Zimbabwe has applied to be registered as a non-profit organization, The Schoolsâ Network of Zimbabwe Association (School Net-Zimbabwe), similar to other national SchoolNets in Africa. Once duly constituted and registered the Association would like to play a supportive and key role in contributing to the national implementation of ICT for Zimbabweâs schools. Government departments, development agencies, churches, councils, private sector ö are invited to be party to the whole initiative. Among other roles, SchoolNet-Zimbabwe will represent member schools and educational institutions by negotiating hardware and software discounts, coordinating training and the sharing of experiences at regional and national levels. Such is a glimpse of the future that lies ahead with ICTs in education.

In conclusion Ladies and Gentlemen we say Makorokoto Binga High School! Amhlophe! With those words I welcome Binga High School, surrounding schools and community to the world of tele-collaboration for development.

I thank you Eliada Gudza National Coordinator World Links-Zimbabwe

By AZFA on Monday, February 18, 2002 - 08:55 am:

The Austrian Ambassador in Zimbabwe, Dr. Peter Leitenbauer adresses the audience at the OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE WorLD INTERNET CENTRE AT BINGA HIGHSCHOOL: CONGRATULATIONS !

Honourable Minister, distinguished guests, Headmaster and other representatives of Binga High School, representatives of Ministry of Education, dear students and friends!

Through having been involved in one way or another in co-operation projects Austria entertains with the Tonga community in general, and in the Binga district in particular, it is the first time for me to be part of a launching ceremony for a project. We hope we will be benefiting many people in the community and assisting in the further development of their home area.

At a time when Zimbabwe's official interaction with the international community appears to become more selective and possibly even regressive, I would like this event to be understood as just another demonstration that we as Austrians, and as Europeans, wish to maintain and enhance our traditionally excellent relations with Zimbabwe also in times of economic duress and mounting political challenges with which the country is confronted at present.

However, good official relations can only provide the framework for the all-important personal links and friendships that develop among people. This forms the fundamental basis for sound international interactions among countries. We have always seen the promotion of people-to-people co-operation as an essential target in our co-operation policy.

I, therefore, find it highly gratifying that our fellow countrymen and women have been able to build over the years an especially close relationship with the Tonga people in Zimbabwe; a relationship which merits full public support.

The project to the inaugurated today should not only constitute another brick to the precious building under construction, by facilitating communication among good friends, but open up new perspectives to the Tonga community in linking it up with and keeping it abreast of and in fact allowing it to participate in developments taking place in the world outside. We believe that this by itself will contribute to the general improvement in the quality of life in a fast changing global environment. It may only be a first step in this direction, but certainly it is a very important one.

With my sincere thanks to all, who made the realisation of this project possible, I wish it great success and eternal life.

By AZFA on Thursday, March 21, 2002 - 07:27 pm:



DATE 15 FEBRUARY 2002-01-24

It is an honour to receive the gift of computers on behalf of the Binga District Schools from our Austrian friends, the Austria Zimbabwe Friendship Association (AZFA).

I am told that there has been a long-standing relationship between the AZFA and this District. This relationship has seen thirty members of the Simonga group based in Siachilaba visiting Austria in 1997. Their visit has since been reciprocated by some members of the AZFA which included Slavko Ninic, a musician and Peter Kuthan, among others, who is with us today and has been instrumental in co-ordinating fundraising activities and communication between AZFA and Binga District.

In March 2001, AZFA provided funds for fuel and allowances, while World Links for Development provided the Big Blue Van, which brought computer technology to the Land of the Tonga. More than a thousand school children in Binga saw, and not only saw, but used, for the first time, the computer. This was the first phase in bringing modern methods of Data capture, manipulation and information dissemination to people of the Zambezi River ( Mulonga in Tonga).

It is encouraging to note that even after giving the computers, providing the Technical support to install them and assisting with funds to complete the Binga Information Technology Centre, our friends are also interested in the electrification of Siachilaba Primary School with the view of establishing another Information Technology Centre there. The AZFA has proved to be a friend indeed, especially at this time when some western countries are driving for the isolation of our sovereign state.

The partnerships that I am told exist between Binga High School with Linz International School and Linz Business School with Binga Craft Centre should be cultivated and nurtured. Now that there is a permanent line for the computer centre it should be possible to communicate using the Internet at any time of the day. This will facilitate both cultural and technological exchanges, not only with our friends the Austrians but with the world at large, leading to tolerance and understanding of our diverse culture and aspirations as a nation.

Binga as a District stands to benefit from this centre. Firstly, our children, the children from Binga and the surrounding areas can compete on an equal, and in some cases better, footing than some children from better developed parts of the country in the job market. Today, computer literacy is a must for everyone and a pre-requisite in large and serious minded companies. You, in Binga, are blessed to have taken a leap into the world of computers. What with our Government policy of vocationalisation to empower you with skills to fend for yourselves and create jobs for others. In line with the government policy, computer lessons will be offered this year. This gift could not have come at a better time.

The competition, as I have alluded to, is becoming stiffer in the job market. Those already in employment should not sit on their laurels, but utilise this facility to remain valuable to their employers and thereby avoid become disposable utilities with the restructuring that sometimes becomes necessary due to the slump in our economy.

The School Development Association of Binga High School, The Headmaster-Mr S Ncube, the teaching staff and pupils need due recognition for their role in offering a room and putting their time into this project to make it a success. All their work, however, would have come to nothing without our Austrian friends.

I would like to thank the Austrian Ambassador, Mr Peter Leitenbauer, Peter Kuthan and his wife and AZFA and ask them to take our gratitude back home for us.

With these words, I declare the Binga District Information Technology Centre officially open.

By Binga High School on Friday, March 22, 2002 - 11:24 am:

Binga WorLD Centre
P Bag 5722
Tel +263 15 330
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Advancing technological empowerment

The Honourable Governor of Upper Austria Province
Dr. Josef Puehringer

Dear Sir,

On behalf of Binga High School pupils and staff and the Binga Community, I would like to express our profound gratitude to you for the donation of the computers through AZFA that made it possible for the establishment of the Binga ITC.

The availability of the computers with the Internet connectivity has already started to touch on the lives of all around the centre. Students are benefiting from an increased amount of teaching and learning aids while some members of staff and the community who are undertaking studies are able to find some reference material from the Internet. Most importantly, the world has been opened to the people of Binga and it is now possible to communicate effectively with the rest of the world. This should bring with it a better understanding of the people and the situation in Zimbabwe and Binga in particular.

It is my hope that the positive friendship you have displayed will be cultivated and strengthened.

Yours truly,

Similo Ncube
Head (Binga High School)

By Ansgara Sinikiwe Maile on Thursday, March 21, 2002 - 10:26 am:

Binga High School
P Bag 5722
19 March 2002

To you Hedi Kuthan
As a pupil from Binga High School l am writing this letter To thank you for donating computers to our school. The computers are really helping us in the sourcing of information and growing up academically.

Your presence during the launching of the computer centre at Binga High School was of paramount importance. I enjoyed seeing you in Binga doing such a wonderful job for us. Having seen that you are kind, generous and a helpful person .I have decided to befriend you so that we Help each other.

Now that we have computers at Binga High School. I just wish that all the people form Binga get the chance to be exposed to the computers so that they become Computer literate I would also be happy if you help us get In touch with pupils from secondary schools In Austria so that we can share ideas furthermore I Would like to know the type of education offered in Austria

In Binga some of the things we do are influenced by our culture. This can be witnessed by the way our drama Group presented their play, they used Tonga language in some cases.All in all the Drama talked about the importance of culture, how modern life influences People to shun their culture .I hope you enjoyed The way the Drama group presented the play

I wish to visit Austria during the school holidays, to see and share your culture, which is different from ours.

Thank you once more for donating computers to us. I hope you will always communicate with us and help us get exposed to some modern technology which is being introduced in this world of globalisation.

May God bless you!!!
Yours sincerely
Ansgara Sinikiwe Maile