Tigo, Tanzania’s leading digital lifestyle company, has since last year donated more than 2,400 desks worth over Tshs 230 million (about US$ 105,000) to needy primary schools in the country in a sustainable exercise that is meant to alleviate the serious shortage of desks in the country’s schools. Two thousand, four hundred desks are able to comfortably accommodate over 7,000 pupils (with one desk accommodating three pupils).
The main recipients of the desks have been primary schools in the country’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam and the up-country regions of Mbeya, an agricultural city located near the Tanzanian-Zambian border; Iringa, a region famed for its timber products and Morogoro, the home of the famous eastern arc Udzungwa mountain ranges have also benefited from this donation by Tigo.
According to Tigo General Manager, Diego Gutierrez, the support is in line with Tigo’s commitment to support community initiatives through its corporate social responsibility portfolio.
Tigo’s gesture is also part of a US$ 50,000 pledge by the telecom in response to the government’s call to individuals, company’s, organizations and other stakeholders to help offset the shortage of desks in the country’s schools.
In May 2014, Tanzania’s then Prime Minister, Peter Mizengo Pinda said that the country was facing a shortage of 1.4 million desks in its primary schools.
“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. •