First-time typing! UNDP initiative brings computers and electricity to Binga school

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, [email protected]

PURITY Mudimba, a 14-year-old student at Zambezi Secondary School in Binga District, beamed with excitement as she typed her name for the very first time. A computer screen, once a distant dream, was now a reality thanks to a UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) initiative.

A Chronicle news crew joined Purity and her classmates during a media tour, witnessing first-hand their introductory computer lesson. Their teacher, recently deployed in January, patiently guided them through the basics. Purity, with a determined glint in her eye, carefully typed her name in a Microsoft Word document — a collaborative effort between her and her peers on a shared laptop.

This new-found access to technology wouldn’t have been possible without the school’s solarisation project, completed last year. Part of the Climate Adaptation Water and Energy Programme (CAWEP), this intervention brought electricity to the school, lighting the path for not just computer studies, but also extended evening study hours for students in low-cost boarding facilities.

Funded by the United Kingdom to the tune of £13,6 million, CAWEP is implemented by UNDP in collaboration with the Government. The project, which began in August 2022, will continue until November 2025, impacting schools across four districts: Binga, Insiza, Chipinge, and Chivi.

Purity, brimming with enthusiasm, expressed her eagerness to learn more about using the laptop. This is a story not just about a first encounter with technology, but about the potential for a brighter future, empowered by knowledge and ignited by a thirst for learning.

“I had never used a laptop before up until this term when we started learning computers. We have limited laptops in our class but the fact that we now have them means a lot to me. We use the laptops in groups and take turns to learn how to operate them. We can also access the internet on the laptops. I’m looking forward to using the laptops to enhance my education,” she said.

Chiedza Mombe, another 16-year-old student at Zambezi Secondary School, mirrored Purity’s excitement. Like her classmate, Chiedza had never used a laptop before. The opportunity to finally touch and explore one sparked a sense of wonder. Up until now, laptops had only existed in the pages of textbooks, leaving Chiedza curious about their real-life form and function.

Antony Mudimba, a 15-year-old student also in Form Three, shared a similar sentiment. He was aware that his counterparts in urban schools and even other rural areas had access to computers for quite some time. This realisation, Antony confided, had previously made him feel excluded from the technological landscape enjoyed by his peers.

“I know that computers are very crucial in the learning process and I know that computer literacy is very important. In order to stand a better chance of getting a job one has to be computer literate. I’m glad that we have now been given this great opportunity. With time we will have grasped how to use the laptops which will give us a better chance in this technology-driven world,” he said.

According to Mr Edson Masango, the Binga District Schools Inspector, having electricity in the schools will help the district carry out the curriculum. He stated that an improvement in the pass rate is anticipated over time.
Mr Masango said the district now has roughly 40 schools out of 175, thanks to this effort.

“Having 10 schools electrified is a huge boost for us as a district. Our learners now have access to gadgets such as computers which are critical in the learning process. Learners will now be able to research and they will be computer literate which is crucial in this technology-driven world. Schools will also now be able to engage in various income generating projects such as poultry.

“The solar energy which was installed is now attracting teachers to these schools which were being shunned before. We are expecting better performance from learners which will in turn improve the pass rate.”

UNDP communications officer, Mr Anesu Freddy said the broad idea of the CAWEP programme is to ensure that no one is left behind hence Binga was selected to benefit from the programme. He said the target is to bring social amenities closer to the people.

Mr Freddy said improved access to education is key in the attainment of Vision 2030 and is one of the major pillars of the National Development Strategy 1.

“One of the targets of the CAWEP project which is being funded by the UK Government and supported by the Government of Zimbabwe which we are implementing as UNDP involves working with social institutions such as schools and clinics. In terms of solar energy we have supported 12 institutions which comprise 10 schools, one clinic and the Zinwa treatment plant,” he said. – @DubeMatutu.

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