7 August 2017

South Africa: Zimbabwean Man Brings Computer Education to Rural Areas

Photo: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp
Itai Shumba stands alongside his computer mobile classroom.

Itai Shumba was disappointed after computers he'd donated to a rural school in Zimbabwe didn't get to the learners. They were instead "used by the teachers for their personal gain," Shumba said.

So Shumba, who is from Zimbabwe and now lives in Strand, came up with a cleverly designed mobile classroom.

Shumba who was himself educated in a rural area -- Chisungo secondary school in Matabeleland -- is aware of the problems rural learners face. He said that he promised himself that one day after finishing his education he would give back to rural communities. "Since I came from a privileged family I excelled in my academics. Now I would like to give back to rural communities by establishing a project named Muono (Vision)," he said.

In 2013 he donated six computers to a school in a rural area but after a few months when he went to the school to monitor progress, he discovered that some of the computers were damaged, and some stolen by the teachers. The learners in the community never benefited from the donation.

He then built a centre where children from nearby schools could come to learn how to use computers but schools from far away communities were left out. Eventually he designed the mobile computer classroom to accommodate these other schools.

The mobile classroom is a rectangular box, made of wood and built on a trailer. Ten computers are mounted on the structure. When opened the two sides that seat five children each, turn into two desks facing each other.

The classroom has a ceiling so that the computers do not get damaged, and a night mode to help learners to study after dark. It also uses solar panels but can receive electricity from the power grid as well.

Shumba works for himself as an electrician. He has used some of his savings to fund the mobile classroom; it has cost him about R42,000 so far. He bought the computers on auction. He used recycled materials for some of the construction, most of it collected from scrapyards.

Two men also work with him on the project: Tafadzwa Nyatoro and Kudakwashe Mandishaya.

Shumba said the advantage of a mobile class is that ten computers will be utilised by many schools, and accountability will be easier because one person will be responsible for the classroom.

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