The district of Binga-Zimbabwe is located in Matabeleland North just south of Kariba Lake, across the lake from Zambia. It lies along the hot and arid southern Zambezi Escarpment, some 758km from Harare, 322km from Bulawayo and 90km from Binga town. Access to clean drinking water and modern means of communication and digital tools like computers, Internet and social media are a challenge. According to statistics, Binga is estimated to carry a population of around 200 000 people and has 80 primary schools and less than 40 secondary schools.
As an interested stakeholder in issues that pertain to education, Higherlife Foundation (HLF) played a part in making concerted efforts to address the educational situation in the district, particularly the Mpambe primary school, which sits in the heart of Matabeleland South. On the 13th of November 2015 the HLF team officially handed over a borehole, classroom block and Learning Hub to the Mpambe community and Mpambe Primary school administration. The Learning Hub is well equipped with modern desks, chairs, a teacher’s LED screen and 42 desktop computers with Internet connectivity. Close to 800 people from the surrounding community attended the handed over event including special invited guests. Present were; The Provincial education director of Matebeleland North, Mrs. Mguni, The Binga District Education Officer, Chief Saba and Village Headmen.
A total of 680 students, from primary and secondary schools were also in attendance. This initiative will see selected community members benefiting from these facilities. The Learning Hub is expected to improve the communities’ access and exposure to the digital world to increase the communities competitiveness in the digital era. “According to a report by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, 7.7 billion people will be connected to the Internet by 2020 and setting up these Learning Hubs in schools and communities will ensure that our children become a part of this number”, Mrs. Fidelia Gandiya (CEO of Higherlife Foundation) highlighted the point as she handed over the Learning Hub to Mpambe primary school.
To date Higherlife Foundation has setup 30 Learning Hubs across countries HLF is in operation, 28 in Zimbabwe, 1 in Lesotho and 1 in Burundi with an average monthly reach of more than 3,000 community members per hub. Fully equipped with computers, LED screens and internet connectivity, these Learning Hubs are meant to improve access to education and technological learning tools for children in rural and urban communities. The world depends more and more on technology and the internet to work and this exposure will increase today’s children’s competitiveness in the global space.
Providing computers and internet connectivity is one thing and adding value is another. To improve effectiveness of the Learning Hubs, HLF is also developing an online learning platform called Ruzivo Digital Learning. The platform will allow children to learn at their own pace, improve access to learning materials and allow parents and guardians to actively track students’ progress ultimately making learning easier.
Such social investments are expected to kick start social transformation. The borehole will improve the provision and access to clean water while the Learning Hub improves access to quality education and increase computer literacy levels in this community. However, despite the work done by HLF, there is still more work to be done, the school needs more assistance to provide accommodation for the 18 teachers at the school who are currently all sharing 3 houses. This is a call to action, by Higherlife foundation, to various industry players, private sector and other Development agents to chip in and help improve the lives of people in the Binga community.