"For the Tonga people like me, there is something deeply biblical about the word MULONGA, yet it is a modern story too. One of massive but unshared technology. One of plentiful water but perpetual drought."
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mulonga.net >> IT Centers >> Stakeholder update: January 07
Stakeholder update: January 07
Monday, 05 March 2007 17:27

We hope that 2007 will bring new development prospects and open channels to accumulate resources to provide ICT in the community and bridge the digital divide that is still existing between the urban elite and the rural poor. The activities in the month of January started at low profile mainly because all efforts were propelled towards planning for the year. The plans drawn during the month formed the road map which will guide implementation of activities during the course of the year. This report, however generally highlights activities that were accomplished in the month under review.

PLANNING MEETING -The planning meeting for tonga.online project was done on the 4th and 5th of January 2007. This meeting was of paramount importance as it assisted the project team to review the activities of 2006 and draw up the 2007 work plan. These plans will be the basis on which activities of the project will be executed.

 

 Activities of interest lined up for the year among others are:


  • Feasibility study to establish the best option for internet connectivity and assessment of trainings needs of the community - January to April 2007.

  • Refurbishment of Binga High School ITC to be the hub of internet - February (March) 2007.

     

  • Wireless network and Physical Link Binga Cluster (Manjolo Prim &Sec, Binga High & Prim and Siachilaba Primary School –May to June 2007.

     

  • Stakeholder Feedback Meeting on the outcome of the feasibility Study - April 2007.

     

  • Hosting of Kankolimba launch function - April 2007.

     

  • Installation of the radio station and training on how to operate it in Zambia, July 2007.

     

  • Attending of the Lwiinde ceremonies and Music Festival in Sianzongwe - July 2007.

     

  • Networking of the Sinazongwe School - July 2007.

     

  • Staff recruitment for the Zambian Side - July 2007



FEASIBILITY STUDY -A meeting to restructure the methodology of the feasibility study and the study team was held between Dr. S.B Mangena of NUST and tonga.online personnel (Project Director and Technical and Operations Manager) at the end of December 2006. The initial study team constituted of NUST personnel. The re-structuring process considers the personnel on the ground with Dr. S.B. Mangena coming aboard as the study supervisor. This move was primarilyconsidered to strengthen the capacity of the staff on the ground as far as carrying out studies is concerned. At the same meeting, the ITC development model similar to Rostow's society development model was designed. The model defines 5 stages through which an ITC should undergo for it to be recognised to have reached the maturity stage. Below are the Stages and their descriptive characteristics:-


Stage zero (0) -No infrastructure (Computers, Space, electricity, telecommunication).


Stage one (1) -With computers available but without supportive infrastructure. IT centre not established.


Stage two (2) -IT Centre set up with computers not networked. Lessons on computer skills being conducted.


Stage three (3) -IT centre set up, networked and usage


Stage four (4) -Community involvement


Stage Five (5) -Content development.


The model will act as a measure gauge for ITC development and play a crucial evaluative role in the future.

The data collection instrument design for the study have been completed and discussed with Dr. Mangena, the study supervisor. And the comments from Dr Mangena are accorded serious considerations.

The desk study is currently in progress. The data collection process will start in February 2007 and it is envisaged that the entire process of the feasibility study will be completed by April 2007.


ADVISORY BOARD- In pursuance to the recommendation made at the July Strategic Planning Seminar, the tonga.online project started the process of forming the Advisory board by inviting members. The following people were invited:


  • Mr E. Gudza- World Links (WL),

  • Dr. S.B Mangena- National University of Science and Technology (NUST).

  • Mr. S.K Mudimba- Binga Rural District Council (RDC),

  • Mr. S. Chimbima- Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company (ZEDCO),

  • Mr. M. Dlamini- Telone,

  • Ms. L.L. Dhlamini- Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development and

  • Mr. Dube- Ministry of Education Sports and Culture.


The Governor for Matabeleland North was invited as the Project Patron. Currently we are awaiting responses from the invited members. In a nutshell, the Advisory Board will be entrusted with the role of advising on strategies and policy for the project in furtherance of the project's goals and objectives.


PERSONNEL - As indicated in the October to December 2006 stakeholder update, Mr D. Mungombe and Penny Yon handed over and stepped down in December 2006. Penny is now playing a part time liaison role for Kunzwana Trust in Harare. Once again we thank them for their commitment and dedication to the project and also wish them the best in all their endeavours.


One student attachment who was based at Syanzyundu, Clement Mungombe, returned back to college as from January 2007. Whilst on the other hand Emelda Munkombwe who was at Siachilaba ITCs did not manage to return back to college owing to fees hike. In this regard tonga.online considered renewing her period of attachment and she will be deployed to Syanzyundu to replace Clemence Mungombe.


Ms Theo Sianyuka will be deployed to Siachilaba to assist Mrs Makani, the teacher who was lobbied for by tonga.online to be deployed to Siachilaba. Ms Sianyuka will assist in training, setting up of management systems for the ITC and focus on gender activities.


Mr Uwe Allgäuer, the Technician who was seconded to Binga ITC left the country at the end of January. His early departure was caused by the fact that he could not acquire the work permit. We thank him for all the contributions that he made to the Centre and wish him all the best.


DEPLOYMENT OF IT TRAINED TEACHERS - The district did not receive any IT trained teacher despite the Governments declaration of IT to be an examinable subject in all secondary schools. Without qualified teachers to deliver and impart knowledge on IT to pupils the output in terms acquiring IT skills and understanding the concepts of IT will be compromised. This will in turn widen the digital gap between the urban and the rural population. If this problem is not addressed, it will be retrogressive towards the achievement of the National Policy on IT. This therefore calls for the district to seriously engage in the lobby and advocacy work with the authorities concerned.


TRAINING – The training of the Zambian teachers ended on the 21st of December 2006. The two teachers who were trained are now running the ITC at Sinazongwe Basic School in Zambia.


The first training for the ITC Managers and school heads on sustainable management of ITC is scheduled to take place in March 2007 in Binga.


BINGA ITC - The ITC purchased a surge protector adapter to prevent the computers from being affected by power surges. Plans to procure a new power supply units are under way.

Training of the pupils at the school started. A total of 699 pupils (345 males and 354 girls) were enrolled for the Information and Technology at the school. 40 Lessons of 35 minutes each were scheduled per week to cater for all the pupils. Contrary to the pupils training, the community training had not started because school was:


  • Working on viable business plans,

  • Adapting to migrate from Microsoft office 2000 to Open Office (FOSS) and

  • Servicing the machines.


The handover of the computer network and operative systems for Binga High was done on the 22nd January 2007 to the Binga High School by Uwe Allgäuer the technician who was leaving the country.

TWIIMBILANE STUDIO – The Radio Drama project, working with some of the members of the drama club started in January 2007. The purpose of the project is to teach the members how to write a script for radio drama, how to record and produce a radio drama.

The editing of the second song for the artist who is a teacher at Musenampongo Primary School was completed. Also the studio continues hosting some local artistic practising sessions.


KANKOLIMBA- The long awaited Kankolimba was supposed to be completed by the end of January 2007. However, owing to shortage of materials the item is still pending. Kankolimba is an instrument made up of two instruments namely the Kankobela and Marimba. Its launch is scheduled to take place in April 2007.


SIACHILABA ITC – Tonga.online project managed to lobby for the deployment of a trained teacher that was computer literate so that IT training at the school could start. The teacher will be the person in charge of the ITC. Of course tonga.online will also attach its trainer Ms Sianyuka to go and assist with the training and also setting up of ITC management systems so that the operations of the ITC could be standardised. In terms of training, nothing much was done in January since the school was planning for the year and enrolling pupils.


SYANZYUNDU ITC – Clemence Mungombe who was on attachment at the school went back to the college. Owing to the scarcity of IT teachers in the district, tonga.online will bridge the gap by sending Emelda Munkombwe to take over from Clemence. She will work in liaison with Mr Elia Mutale who is the IT department head for the school. For this period under review, computer lessons had not started. The school was busy planning for the year and enrolling pupils. A total of 601 pupils were enrolled for the computer lessons at the school and no community members had come to register for IT course during the month.


Plans to remove the bats in the ITC are at advance stage. Some fumigation insecticides have been secured from Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. While networking with the Department of National Parks on the best method of removing of the bats had started.


SINAZONGWE (ZAMBIA) EXTENSION – Training at Sinazongwe has started. In the month of January 5 community members (3 females and 2 Males) enrolled for the Basic Computer skills. Whilst on the other hand 643 pupils (364 girls and 279 boys) were enrolled and were being trained in computers skills. The registration of Kunzwana Trust in Zambia has been scheduled for April 2007 and the installation of the long awaited radio station will take place in August 2007.


Attempts to form the ITC management committee for Sinazongwe ITC were made 21st of January 2007 but only a few stakeholders showed up for the meeting and hence the meeting was cancelled. The school has requested for the intervention of the Honourable Chief Sinazongwe to facilitate the calling of the meeting.


MEETINGS - Meetings are an important tool for monitoring and coordination of activities. In this regard, tonga.online therefore held some series of meetings with Binga High, Binga Primary, Manjolo Secondary, Manjolo Primary, the DEO, Telone Technician, and the head of Binga High. The meeting discussed various issues in respect to IT development in the district. Brief summary of the discussion that took place at each meeting is detailed below.


Binga High

The meeting was a preparatory one in view of the incoming investment. It looked at the following issues:


  • The centre receiving better computers to replace the old ones currently in the centre and that the computers will come pre-installed with UBUNTU,

  • The centre growing into an ISP for the Binga district schools & stakeholders,

  • The centre getting a broadband internet connection through Comone,

  • The costs involved and particularly the recurrent costs and the urgent need to plan for sustainability,

  • The urgent need to plan for a changeover from Microsoft products to UBUNTU and

  • The urgent need to plan for the security of the ICT against burglars.


Binga Primary, Manjolo Secondary, and Manjolo Primary Schools


Taking into cognisant that Binga Primary, Manjolo Primary and Manjolo Secondary schools are among the schools that tonga.online is going to carry out a pilot study with. It was therefore essential for tonga.online to have a meeting with the schools to prepare them for the connection of internet from BITC, the proposed ISP. Some of the issues that were discussed among others were the security of the room were the internet equipment will be installed, sustainability issue that is coming up like business plans and teachers making an effort to use the computers for teaching. The school was going to relax the rules that prevented teachers from using computers.


Telone Technician


The meeting discussed the necessary requirements for the link to BITC so that he could find out with his relevant departments. The outcomes of the meeting were:


  • Tonga.online was advised to apply for bandwidth in multiples of 64KB as Telone had circuits that could handle bandwidth in multiples of 64KB.

  • Tonga.online was also advised that they had to arrange for the linking of BITC from the exchange themselves because Telone was only going to terminate at the exchange.

  • Tonga.online will now extend the services of the IAP to the Telone exchange. Meaning that, it will be the duty of the IAP to link BITC to Telone. This requirement has been communicated to the proposed IAP, Tele-Contract.

 

District Education Officer

The meeting held between tonga.online and the DEO was to inform him about the feasibility study that was ongoing and to solicit clearance from the ministry to visit schools and get as much cooperation as possible from the school heads.

School Head Binga High School


The major issues that were discussed at this meeting were:-

  • The intensification of the monitoring and supervision of the ITC activities.

  • Separation of the ITC account from the main school Account.

  • Shedding off some extra curriculum responsibilities on ITC personnel so that they could be full time in the centre.


WEB EDITING - The new design of the project website www.mulonga.net started to be operational on the 6th of January 2007 by Stefan Kuthan. It is based on Content Management System (CMS). Now the new mulonga website should be much easier to handle and offers more opportunities to participate.

MIGRATION TO FOSS- A strategy was adopted where all computers were to be immediately installed with Open Office, an office productivity open source product, equivalent of Microsoft Office and available with Ubuntu at Binga High and Binga Primary School.


SUSTAINABILITY- One of major concerns of tonga.online is to put in place mechanisms that will enhance sustainability of the centres in the future. From the meetings held, it emerged abundantly clear that hands on by school heads, commitment by the ITC personnel and proper planning of ITC activities are crucial in the enhancement of sustainability of the ITCs.


GENERAL CONDITIONS- Binga temperatures in the month of January were quite conducive due to substantial rainfall received during the month. 96 mm of rainfall was received at the beginning of the month of January and 65 mm at the end of the month. Praise be to God who causes rain to precipitate. During the month of January, the power cuts caused by the falling of aged transmission poles were prevalent. This affected the work progression since the major business of the project is the advancement of Information and Technology (IT) in the district. Otherwise the environment is very beautiful with green vegetation, grass and the fresh air from the mighty Zambezi River flowing from North to the South.


Compiled by: Pottar Muzamba- Project Director tonga.Online