Gombahun Village in Pujehun district, south of Sierra Leone has benefitted an ultra modern pre-school from Sierra Leone’s award winning and leading telecoms company, Orange Sierra Leone.
The school will provide pre-school service for the kids of not only Gombahun village but also surrounding villages in Sowa Chiefdom.
Plans are being worked out to get the school furnished for ffective teaching and learning to commence in September, this year. Every child aged between 3 and 5yrs is entitled to benefit from the school. The school was commissioned by the Minister of Information and Communication, Mohamed Rado Swarray during a ceremony held at Gombahun village the previous Thursday.
During the ceremony, CEO (Chief Executive Officer), Aminata Kane N’diaye said the construction of the school was part of a broader corporate social responsibility which Orange SL has embarked on throughout its existence in Sierra Leone. The school project is also an actualisation of a pledge to support President Bio’s vision on Free Quality Education in Sierra Leone.
“When the President declared Free Quality Education in the country, We are the first to pledge support for five years,” Madam N’diaye said.
The pre-school in Gombahun village is the third the company has constructed in Sierra Leone. Two state of the art pre-schools were also recently constructed in Kambia and Moyamba districts. The school was a direct response to calls made by the community.
Orange CEO informed the audience that the construction of the schools came after wide- ranging consultations with the authorities. During the consultations, Madam N’diaye went on, the company discovered an education gap for the children of this country. The gap led to an unparalleled investment in children’s education by Orange SL.
Orange CEO appealed to the community to take ownership of the school so that generations yet to come would benefit from it. Apart from the construction of schools, Orange SL has made a number of CSR interventions worthy of emulation.
In 2018, the company offered sanitary pads to girls in various schools across the country. When COVID-19 hit the country in 31st March 2020, Madam N’diaye said, the company heightened its CSR support to the people of Sierra Leone. Financial inclusion and communication support services were the main CSR strategies employed by the company. To enhance government’s intervention in COVID-19, the company donated Le1, 000, 0000, 000 (One Billion Leones).
In the area of communication services, the company established and operated free on-line portals for students in secondary schools and universities.
The Orange CEO appealed to the parents to send their children to school to tap into the education opportunities provided by the telecoms company. She similarly called on government to make pre-schooling compulsory.
She reminded the people of Sierra Leone that although the company is here to provide top-notch communication service to the people of Sierra Leone, it also shows love and care for Sierra Leoneans. The company, Madam N’diaye said had enhanced livelihoods through the provision of jobs for a great number of Sierra Leoneans.
“Orange is a responsible company. Orange is an investor that wants to stay in Sierra Leone,” Orange CEO assured. She said Orange Sierra Leone had 300 sites two years back adding that the company now takes pride in over 450 sites.
The company’s increased presence countrywide, no doubt, makes it the largest and widest GSM operator in the country. She appreciated the land holding families and other community stakeholders for their support.
Ministry of Basic and Senior School Education (MBSSE) was represented by Mr Amara Sowa, Director of Education. Mr Sowa commended Orange Sierra Leone for “the tremendous support” the company has been providing to the education sector. He said the company had constructed three pre-schools in the country thereby bringing government into the realm of pre-school education.
“Nursery school was purely a private sector domain,” he said.
It was towards this direction, he went on, that the President thought it wise to begin quality education at pre-school level. “Pre-school is about strong foundation for quality education,” he said.
He said Kambia, Pujehun among other towns were chosen because they were performing badly in public exams. Mr Sowa further stated data driven out of needs assessment brought the school to Gombahun Village. He assured Gombahun community that the school would have the necessary materials.
In his contribution, Paramount Chief Lahai Sowa commended the Orange company for their wonderful initiative. He assured the company that the school would be taken care of.
The keynote address was made by the Minister of Information and Communication, Mohammed Rado Swarray. Mr Swarray said the New Direction is about education.
“We are doing a lot as a government to strengthen education,” he said.
Quoting the President, when one wanted to destroy a country, did not need to bring in fighter jets to destroy a nation but one could destroy a nation by destroying education. He commended Orange Sierra Leone for investing in education.
The minister said Gombahun was celebrating a great day as Orange is investing in the future of young children in the community. Cutting the tape to symbolize the opening of the school was done by the minister.