The leading telecommunications company, NetOne has taken their CRS to yet another level as they build a school in the Siachilaba area of Binga, Mat North. The school, located 60km away from Binga center, is a home for over 220 students from the previously marginalized community of Binga. The giant, under its Corporate social investment portfolio, says it has a mandate to assist marginalized communities. Bunsiwa is one such community hence the move to offer the much needed relief. NetOne Acting Head of Marketing and Public Relations, Mr. Dennis Chagonda emphasized that NetOne as a Corporate Citizen 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” said Chagonda. “As part of the United Nations “Leaving No One Behind” mantra, NetOne is working towards including all communities in its developmental strategy. Bunsiwa Primary has a population of over 220 students but has only twenty-three 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 committed to assisting the community by constructing state of the art school blocks, offices, staff and strong rooms at Bunsiwa plus providing ICT equipment such as computers, printers and Wi-Fi. “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 eLearning possible. The block in question is at the foundation level with construction set to kick start in less than 2 weeks. In this project NetOne partnered the community of Siachilaba which has 9 villages.
NetOne commissioned Nachulwe Base station in Binga earlier this year in an event that was graced by the Vice President Hon. Dr CGDN Chiwenga. It was then that the NetOne team of Public Relations Practitioners identified the need in the community. The issue was highlighted 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”, adds Chagonda.
NetOne Acting CEO Mr Raphael Mushanawani added that 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. He adds “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”.
As part of the project proposal, the NetOne team highlighted the need to source all locally available materials from in and around the region. This does not only foster community participation but also help 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. Material not found locally will be sourced elsewhere within the region”, says Chagonda.
The community had nothing but kind words as they extended their gratitude to the MNO for such a kind gesture. Mr T Mwembe, the school headmaster who also doubles as a villager had this to say, “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. He concludes, “Once the project is done every child will be able to learn from a proper classroom with proper furniture.
NetOne’s CSI strategy is broad targeting areas such as education, health, community empowerment projects, care initiatives, installation of base stations in marginalized communities and environmental protection. These initiatives are for all communities in Zimbabwe. One such initiative is the renovation of the Gwanda Provincial Hospital Theatre whose process has already been set rolling.