"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 >> Stakeholders Update June 2007
Stakeholders Update June 2007
Monday, 02 July 2007 20:42
As the challenge to network the Information, Technology Centres (ITC) and provide Internet services in the district draws nearer, the month of April was packed with series of meetings and workshops. The goal was to assess and review the magnitude of the work delivered by the project and come up with a tentative plan which will guide the future implementation of activities. Contrary to April, the month of May was dominated by the completion of the feasibility study, i.e. the report writing. This report is very critical to the achievement of the Tonga.Online objectives because it will suggest appropriate options and solutions of approaching further ICT infrastructure development. In light of the above, the report gives an overview of what transpired during aforesaid months.

2.0 ADVISORY BOARD

The inauguration meeting for the Advisory Board to formally constitute the board was held on the 20th of April 2007 in Bulawayo. At that meeting, the Board elected it's chairperson and vice who happen to be no other than Mrs LL Dhlamini the Provincial Administrator of Matabeleland North under the Ministry of Local Government, Public Work and Urban Development whilst the vice is Mr Adam Dube of Ministry of Education Sports and Culture. The constitution to govern operational parameters for the Board was thoroughly discussed. Below are the board members.

Advisory Board 

3.0 FEASIBILITY STUDY

The feasibility study report which was expected to be circulated in mid week of May 2007 will now be distributed in mid June 2007. Currently the report is being studied by Dr. S.B. Mangena, the study supervisor. A joint Advisory Board and Science and Technology meeting to discuss the report have been scheduled for the 20th of July 2007. After the committees have exhaustively deliberated, resolved on the report and advised Tonga.Online on the the way forward, further ICT infrastructure development will commence thereafter through a tripartite decision making process by Kunzwana / H3 / AZFA.

4.0 DEPLOYMENT OF IT TRAINED TEACHERS

The district had hoped to get some IT trained teachers during the second school term as promised by the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MOESC) however, nothing materialised because the shortage of teachers with ICT skills in schools still manifest. With the computer science being examinable and growth of technology in the schools, a shortage of people with the right skills would grossly retard progress in future.

5.0 TRAINING

5.1 Training on Free Open Source Software (FOSS) and Web Management.

A two days workshop on FOSS and web management and editing was conducted by Stefan Kuthan from Austria Zimbabwe Friendship Association (AZFA) on the 26th and 27th respectively. The purpose the workshop was to impart IT skills on FOSS and and web management. A total of 15 people (3 females and 12 males) mainly the school teachers, the Ministry of Education officials, and Tonga.Online staff were exposed to these imperative and crucial skills in preparation for the oncoming Internet and web activities.

Workshop Participants 

5.2 ITC Managers, Management committees and Gender training.

The above trainings which were scheduled to take place during the second quarter of 2007 have been temporary shelved owing unprecedented commitments. Currently all the time is directed towards the completion of the feasibility study document. This report is very critical in the life of Tonga.Online because it will bring appropriate solutions for capacity building and ICT infrastructure development. These trainings will be therefore conducted soon after the feasibility study has been completed and the report discussed. The training manuals for the courses are currently being produced.

5.3 Routine Trainings

Routine trainings conducted at different ITCs for the community and the school pupils had adjourned in all school during the month of April due to the holidays in all schools, save for Sianzyundu Secondary School which had programmed for holiday lessons for form four pupils. The trainings resumed in the month of May at all the centres. During the month of May, only school pupils were trained in most ITCs simply because community members can not afford to pay for the courses owing to the economic hardship currently prevailing in the country. In this regard the 'user pay concept' has to be properly managed if the “access for all” objective has to be accomplished.

5.3.1 Sinazongwe ITC

Training at Sinazongwe ITC for the school pupils (grades 6 to 9) is currently in progress. As for this period, no community members were trained. Vigorous marketing strategies should be set by the ITC management Committee to realise more students. The lack of appropriate drivers for the printer that are compatible FOSS software has prevented the installation of the printer at the ITC. It is however, hoped that if the drivers are secured, the printer will then be installed in July 2007.

5.3.2 Binga High ITC

Binga High School ITC was upgraded with 14 new state of art computers. The computers were all networked and installed with Edubuntu, a Free Open Source Software (FOSS) during the month of April. The installation of new computers facilitated the resuscitation of the Internet services. A total of 736 students (315 males and 321 females) from form 0ne (1) to form six (6) are undergoing training at the centre. The students have adapted well to the FOSS software which came along with the new computers. No courses were run for community in the month of April and May. In the month of April training could not be conducted owing to upgrading of the centre which was taking place. Whilst in the month of May training could not be conducted because the trainers were still familiarising with the new software.

6.0 TWIIMBILANE STUDIO

6.1 Music Recordings and Musicians Practise

Registration of musicians and practice sessions for musicians are ongoing with two groups and one individual currently recording their music. The studio is also actively focusing on the recording of traditional music for archiving and in a bid to expose Tonga traditional music to tertiary institutions that offer music.

6.2 Kankolimba

The first public performance of the completed Kankolimba instrument was held on the 22nd of April 2007 on the occasion of the visit by partners AZFA, HORIZONT3000 and Kunzwana Trust for the Tonga.Online midterm review workshop. Kankolimba is a combination of two instruments, Kwanongomastyle marimba instrument and the Kalimbalike Tonga Kankobela. Some networking plans with Mr. Edward Mungombe, the Siachilaba based famous Kankobela player are under way. The purpose of the networking is to facilitate the transfer of Kankobela music unto Kankolimba. The transfer process will be done through a combined playing of Kankobela by Edward and the Kankolimba by the youths group.

7.0 MONITORING AND SUPPORT VISITS

7.1 Monitoring Visits

A joint monitoring visit was conducted by AZFA, HORIZONT3000, Kunzwana Trust and Tonga.Online on the 23rd of April to Manjolo Secondary, Siachilaba Primary and Sianzyundu Secondary Schools. The people who formed the monitoring team were Stefan Kuthan and Peter Kuthan (AZFA), Johannes Atzinger and Hurbetus Lindiener (HORIZONT3000), Keith Goddard and Ignatius Mhambi (Kunzwana Trust), Pottar Mauzamba, Richard Simango and Theophorah Sianyuka (Tonga.Online). The purpose of the visit was to establish how the centres were operating and what challenges they experienced. One major challenge which was highlighted by most of the centres was how to sustain the operations of the ITCs amid the limited revenue sources in the ITCs.

8.0 NEW CONSIGMENT OF COMPUTERS AND STUDIO EQUIPMENT.

The consignment of 20 computers and Studio equipment arrived in Binga on the 6th of April 2007. Whilst another consignment of 16 keyboards and 10 mice landed in Binga on the 8th of May 2007. The consignment of the computers was distributed as follows:

  • Binga High School ITC: 14 computers.
  • Tonga.Online: 1 computer.
  • Kariangwe High School: 1 computer.
  • Twiimbilane Studio: 1 computer.
  • District Education Offices: 3 Computers
 The keyboards and mice are currently at Tonga.Online offices and are earmarked to replenish Sianzyundu Secondary School ITC. In light of the above the new computers installed at Binga High School, the old equipment from the centre is proposed to be distributed to other schools and institution as follows:
 
SchoolComputers
Available
Proposed
Donation
Purpose Total for
Pilot Study
 Binga Primary School 4 3

1x server
1x Administration
1x Special Class

 7
 Manjolo Primary School 4 (3 working) 4 1xServer
1x replacement of not working,
1x Administration,
1x Disabled pupils
 8
 Siachilaba Primary School 7 (6 working) 1 1x replacement of not working computer 6
 Siansundu Secondary School 13 (12 working)
 1 1x replacement of not working computer 13
 Tonga.Online 3 for office use 3 Mobile training program 6
 District Education Office 3 CPUs 3 Monitors
  

 

Currently these computers have not been distributed as per the proposed schedule. This is main attributable to the delays by the schools receiving donations to submit their request letters to the donating school (Binga High School). These delays have also affected the setting up of the District Education Offices because the school intends to release the whole consignment at one goal. It is hoped that the District Education Officer will encourage the receiving schools to react promptly towards the offer.

9.0 MEETINGS AND WORKSHOPS

9.1 Science and Technology SubCommittee.

During the visit of Austria Zimbabwe Friendship Association (AZFA), HORIZONT3000 and Kunzwana Trust a follow up meeting with the Science and Technology a subcommittee of Rural District Development Committee (RRDC) was held. The Science and Technology Subcommittee is a committee that is entrusted with the role of spearheading the development of ICT activities. The purpose of the meeting was to have an overview on the roll out of the ICT activities and the challenges faced by the district. One major challenge which emerged during the meeting was nonavailability of electricity in some of the school which got some donation of computers from the President. As a result Tonga.Online could not assist in setting up of the centres in the absence of this crucial service. The schools in question were Kariangwe High by then, Lubimbi High, and Siabuwa High Schools. Of course Chunga is also among the list despite that it has not got some computers. However, power lines feeding Kariangwe High School has been since energised. It is now the duty of the Local Authority to ensure that the computer laboratory is electrified to enable Tonga.Online to establish the centre.

9.2 Tonga.Online midterm review workshop.

A one (1) day midterm review workshop was held on the 24th of April 2007, facilitated by Peter Kuthan for AZFA. The workshop participants were teachers, the District Education officials, Kunzwana Trust, HORIZONT3000, AZFA and Tonga.Online staff. The main thrust of the workshop was:  to review the level of implementation of the project and assess reports from ITC's stakeholders and partners.  to identify key issues and lessons learned. 6  to chart the way forward for 2007 / 2008 and clarify what to expect from whom Quite a number of issues emerged during the workshop and these issues require proper approach and strategy to address them. (See the workshop report).

9.3. Meeting with Telecontract the Internet Access Providers (IAP) Experts.

Tonga.Online held a meeting with Telecontract, an Internet Access Provider (IAP) to get some specifications on the equipment for the Internet connectivity and wireless networking of centres and come up with a roll out plan. This information was indispensable for the completion of the feasibility study document and also provides the project cost framework. 9.4 Siachilaba ITC Management Committee Meeting. Efforts to convene the community meeting to reconstitute the ITC management committee have been made but all in vain. The reconstitution of the committee was proposed because most of the members who were elected into the ITC committee were not attending meetings. In light of these happenings, Tonga.Online is in a process of approaching the Local Authority to assist in mobilising the community and also carry out a problem analysis as to why the community was not forthcoming for the meetings.

10.0 MIGRATION TO FOSS

As the need to expeditiously migrate to FOSS becomes more urgent due to numerous advantages it has, all the new computers that arrived in the district were installed with Edubuntu FOSS software. During the web management and FOSS training, Tonga.Online conducted a competition to give away the Eduntu CDs. Five (5) participants (two females and three males) went away with Eduntu CDs. Such strategies should be perpetual be pursued in view of disseminating information on FOSS. Also a monitoring mechanism to ascertain whether and how the software is being put into use need to be considered seriously.

11.0 ARTS AND CULTURE

11.1 Visit to Siachilaba to meet Simonga.

One of Tonga.Online prime objectives is to promote and preserve the cultural heritage of the Tonga. It is on this objective that Tonga.Online was founded on. On the 23rd of April 2007, Tonga.Online, Austria Friendship Association (AZFA), Kunzwana and HORIZONT3000 visited the traditional Ngoma Buntibe dancing group Simonga in Siachilaba ward and had a chance to interact with them and listen to the unique Ngoma Buntibe music. It was quite pleasing to learn that the group is growing from strength to strength.

11.2 Lwiindi Festival

Preparations for the commemoration of Lwiindi festival on the 28th of July 2007 in Sinazongwe district in Zambia are at an advanced stage. The Lwiindi festival is function where the people of the “Great Lake” (BaTonga) appease their ancestors for what they have done for them in a particular given season. Currently, Tonga.Online is busy mobilising the Simonga Ngoma Buntibe group and other few members from other Ngoma Buntibe to go across and join Zambian tribes’ men in the celebration of such an important function. This function will be also a learning process for the BaTonga from the Zimbabwean side on how to preserve culture which faces the risk of extinction. From the lessons learnt, it is envisaged that the Zimbabwean counterparts will also mobilise themselves to preserve and revitalize their cultures.

12.0 GENERAL CONDITIONS

The months of April and May were general warm with less prevalence of power cuts and telephone line down time. Wish a pleasant winter season.

Compiled by: Pottar Muzamba- Project Director Tonga.Online