ASIDE from being the first school built in Southern province and the first in the region to produce a President, Kalomo Secondary School continues on the path of firsts – this time around being the first government institution to be connected to the broadband network of Starlink, the satellite Internet service of SpaceX.
The school which groomed President Hakainde Hichilema in the late 70s to early 80s has been equipped with free internet services with a supersonic speed of 180 megabytes per second, for a period of one year by Electro Technique Solutions.
The low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites by StarLink Solutions owned by tech billionaire Elon Musk will provide high-speed, low latency broadband internet in remote and rural areas across the globe
To smothen the process, Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority ZICTA has donated 20 computers to the school, which will increase the number of computers from 15 to 35.
Minister of Science and Technology Felix Mutati, who launched Starlink broadband network at Kalomo Secondary School on Friday, said innovation in information technology in the education sector will reduce the knowledge gap in schools and digital divide.
Mutati who recounted how late cleric Bishop Abdon Pothani paved way for him to access quality education in the early stages of attending secondary school, said pupils need to be equipped with tools that will help to enrich their educational skills and make the most of their talents.
“I failed grade 7 and later was made to attend night school, i was made to sale fritters to kids who were going to normal school in the morning and during the day I would sell dry fish and vegetables to supplement my father’s finances. I was made to contribute because my siblings were making progress in school,” he said.
“When I was an alter boy, Father Pothani arranged for me to go to Mukasa seminary in Choma. Father Pothani (then) gave me the tools to be able to succeed, and this is what my colleague (Electro Technique Solutions – Sales Executive Director, Abdil Suleman) has done”
Mutati advised the pupils to acquaint themselves with technology and broaden their skills.
“As my friend delivers these equipments to this school, we are telling our children that the rest is for you to work hard, we can only give you the tools.”
“He has delivered not only technology, not Starlink, he has delivered an opportunity for success. This is the first school in the whole of Zambia where we have connected Starlink,” he said.
He proposed that government institutions can utilise the opportunity to connect to the broadband network services.
“Let’s use this internet to insure the hospital nearby, The police and government offices are connected as it can connect up to 200 devices.
The entire Kalomo has been linked to the internet in terms of government operations and other critical operations,” he said.
“Kalomo will be the first district in the country to have such connectivity, the first in Zambia.
For the pupils your World has been opened up, you have access to knowledge, information without limit, and you no longer have the excuse that I do not have a textbook.”
Mutati encouraged the teachers to draw level with educational technology as they impart knowledge in the pupils.
“The 2000 students will have an opportunity to go to the world of technology. They will no longer be the same. The expansion of their knowledge will be immense,” he said.
“For those that were not able to be connected to the internet many years ago, we should not hold on to that past, because we missed the bus. What we need is to reboot to relay to abandon the old ways and do things differently. We shall make this a model of education and excellency.”
He advised the representative of the network provider not to abandon the project midway as the ministry’s permanent secretary Brilliant Habeenzu thinks out on how to settle up with recurring billing.
“Let’s not leave it halfway. We don’t want to come back in month four and say we are back to the old ways no, that’s impossible. We will not allow that. After one year, PS will find a long-term solution to paying the monthly charge so that Kalomo is permanently connected,” said Mutati.
Abdil Suleman a sales executive director of Electro Technique Solutions who delivered and installed the equipment on behalf of his company said children need to be equipped with the right tools for their success to eliminate the effects of social background in the education environment.
“We are opening the doors to a world of knowledge and opportunities. Our students will have access to a wealth of education resources, connect with the global community, and prepare themselves for the future that is increasing in the digital space.” said Suleman.
“In this era, access to information should not be a privilege but a right. By providing reliable internet access, we are empowering our children to dream more and learn bigger and aspire to new heights.
Provincial education officer Grace Mwiya appealed to the government to provide more computers to the school as the current ones are unequal to the number of pupils whose population is 2000.
And Joy Munyumbwe, a grade 8 pupil of Kalomo Secondary school, who thanked government on behalf of other pupils, for its commitment to promote education through information and communication technology (ICT) said the equipment will motivate them to achieve their goals and contribute to the development of the nation.
By Mwaka Ndawa