Leading telecommunication service provider in Tanzania Tigo has been active in improving education standards in Tanzania. From last year, the telecom has donated over 2,400 desks with a total value of about $105,000 to primary schools in the country lacking these very basic facilities.
With one desk being able to comfortably seat three pupils, the 2,400 desk donation has seen at least 7,000 pupils in Tanzania seat while they’re learning. Majority of the schools that have benefited from Tigo’s donations are public schools located near the Tanzania-Zambia border, particularly in the region called Iringa and Morogoro. Iringa is famous for its timber production while Morogoro is home to the internationally renowned arc Udzungwa mountain ranges.
According to the telecom’s General Manager, Diego Guiterrez, the donations are part of Tigo’s commitment to supporting community development under its corporate social responsibility portfolio.
The gesture is also part of Tigo’s $50,000 pledge to a call by the Tanzania government to individuals, corporate and stakeholders to chip in towards addressing the problem of desks shortage in the country.
“Statistics have shown that Tanzania needs about 3.3 million desks for her primary schools while the available ones are only 1.8 million. We therefore, have a deficit of 1.5 million”, the former PM is quoted by the media as saying at the time.
“It costs Tshs. 120,000 (US$ 57) to make one desk”, the now-retired premier had opined, and continued to add that if the government would decide to make 100,000 desks at Tshs 12 billion, it would take 12 years to end the problem-and asked for support from well-wishers and other like-minded parties.
Tigo, together with the Hassan Maajar Trust (HMT), a local charitable organization, heeded the plea and collaborated, in the initial stages in providing desks to needy primary schools in Mbeya and Iringa regions. Tigo has continued to support more schools ever since, an initiative that has been lauded by the local government administrations and also the beneficiary institutions.
Speaking on the need to support in promoting the education sector in Tanzania, Diego says: “we understand the challenges the education sector faces in providing a conducive learning environment especially to students in the rural areas. It is our hope that the desks that Tigo is providing will translate to better and comfortable learning which the students will enjoy studying from”.
According to UNICEF, the net primary school enrollment rate shot up by 94%-a drastic growth mainly occasioned by the abolition of primary school fees in 2001 coupled with the government’s compulsory requirement that parents/guardians’ send all children to school.
The rapid expansion meant that class-room sizes had mushroomed with an average of 66% in each government primary school by 2011 (Source: Education Sector Performance Report: 2010-2011).
Expressing their gratitude to Tigo for the much-needed shot in the arm, the beneficiary schools said at different intervals that the support will go a long way in ensuring the comfort of the pupils in their learning sessions, hence tremendous improvement in their pupils’ academic performance.
“I really thank Tigo for providing us with desks. Our school had a serious shortage of desks and most of the pupils were sitting on the floor and this impeded the required academic performance. However, with the available desks, our pupils will now be able to enjoy the comfort on sitting on them and hence better performance in their day to day academic tasks”, said an elated Lutufyo Mwakilima, the head-master of Nsalaga Primary School in Mbeya Urban District.
A standard seven pupil at the school, Sylvanus Mwanganya, said of the desks from Tigo: “I thank Tigo very much because now I can sit comfortably and study without the discomfort of sitting on the floor like it was before. The desks will help me and other pupils to concentrate more in our studies and hence excel in our examinations”.
Mwakilima also said that the donation was a relief to even the parents because previously, they were obliged to subsidize for the purchase of desks by contributing money to the exercise.
According to Tigo GM, Tigo has a strong corporate social responsibility program that supports a wide range of activities within the focus of education, health and wellbeing and environment that is meant to contribute to improving the lives of people in the community it serves.
Tigo is the biggest commercial brand of Millicom, an international company developing the digital lifestyle in 12 countries with commercial operations in Africa and Latin America and corporate offices in Europe and the USA.