By Ralph Simeon Sesay
Orange Sierra Leone (SL), the country’s leading telecoms company, has committed itself to supporting ‘human capital development.’ project in Sierra Leone.
Human capital development is one of the flagship projects of President Bio’s ‘New Direction’ administration.
The Company was the first to commit resources to the Free, Quality Education (FQE) with USD$1.5M material support.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), Orange SL has launched five key projects aimed at supporting various pillars in the President’s ‘human capital development’ agenda in the next five years.
Thanks to the recent appointment of Dr. Moininah David Sengeh, Sierra Leone’s first Chief Innovation Officer, as Minister, MBSSE.
His contribution to the country’s innovation and technological transformation has mobilised the much needed private sector support to the FQE project.
One of the five FQE projects is the provision of 10,000 menstrual hygiene packs to 200 schools in the next five years.
The hygiene packs were meant for the retention of girls in schools by mitigating critical challenges they face during menstrual periods.
In Sierra Leone, it is reported that, girls who reach puberty, most times, stay away from school for five to seven days every month when they see their menses.
The situation has seriously impacted on the girls’ ability to perform well in school.
Orange SL has partnered with the Girl Child Network Sierra Leone (GCN-SL), an organisation that provides reusable and environmentally friendly menstrual packs recognized and approved by UNICEF.
GCN-SL is a UNICEF approved organisation for the provision of menstrual hygiene packs to schools.
The organisation also renders counseling and other reproductive health services for school girls especially the management of menstruation.
The provision of the menstrual hygiene packs which is the first phase of the project has commenced in 20 schools in the Western rural and urban Areas.
The menstrual packs were received with joy by school authorities who have been spending huge sums of money in menstrual hygiene not only to keep girls in school but also to preserve environmental hygiene.
Apart from the provision of hygiene packs, the Super Coder Scratch (SCS) project is also very much crucial to President Bio’s ‘human capital agenda.’
SCS, Orange SL’s second project, seeks to create 100 computer laboratories where pupils in 100 schools in the age brackets of 9-14 years could be trained.
One of the deliverables of the SCS project is the enhancement of pupils’ super coding skills relevant to their academic pursuits.
The project is in line with President Bio’s information technology initiative.
It is reported the President is committed to ensuring that information technology informs critical decision making to solve emerging, complex issues in Sierra Leone.
The creation of the Directorate of Science and Technological Innovation (DSTI) at State House points towards that direction.
In order to achieve the information technology objective, President Bio has called on the private sector to contribute towards the success of his flagship project.
It is against this backdrop that Orange SL has partnered with ST Foundation, a renowned humanitarian organization, to provide computer training for schools in Sierra Leone with specific focus on super coding.
ST Foundation is supported by its parent foundation in Switzerland to roll out the super coder project to 100 schools in Sierra Leone.
The third project, set to be implemented by Orange SL in collaboration with the MBSSE, is geared towards supporting the Open Classroom Project (OCP).
The project seeks to provide advanced training for 500 teachers in Sierra Leone through various online courses in 500 universities across the world.
The project will also provide internet facilities, equipment as well as facilitate the admission of the said number of teachers in Universities of their choice.
The OCP will, no doubt, boost the FQE and provide a platform for the retention of teachers in schools.
Most teachers are determined to advance their careers, but constrained by lack of resources.
Government is assured of a highly trained and motivated staff in the next five years after the completion of the project.
Out of the USD$1.5M material support to the FQE, Orange SL will provide 2,000 solar packs to 200 schools in remote communities in Sierra Leone.
It is hoped that the solar packs would support effective studies by pupils and processing of scripts by teachers.
Most remote communities in the country are in perpetual darkness, a situation that negatively affected education there.
Also, the conduct of Inter-Secondary School quiz competitions at regional level is another key project sponsored by Orange SL.
The quiz competitions test the entrepreneurial skills of pupils through debates and quiz competitions.
The competitions will be held in all regions in Sierra Leone and the winning school from each region stands to benefit an ultra-modern computer laboratory from Orange SL.
Apart from the USD$1.5M support to FQE, Orange SL has been supporting other sectors in Sierra Leone.
The rehabilitation of the Pediatric Ward at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital, gold sponsors of the Freetown Thinking Pink Breast Cancer Marathon Race, Freetown City Council Transform Freetown Project, Women’s Empowerment, support of 50 Ebola orphans and other benevolence in the form of corporate philanthropies are glowing testimonies.
Above all, the company has left no avenue unexplored to expand and improve its network since it took over from Zain in 2016.
Since that year, Orange SL has invested over USD $400M in the building of more commercial sites, improvement of equipment across the country accurate data provision, internet and financial services for Sierra Leoneans in remote communities.
Orange SL has paid great attention to the improvement and development of its staff capacity by investing around USD$14M at the last few years. Little doubt, that a good number of its high cadre staff are women.
The company is also on record as the only GSM operator that prides itself with a clear-cut policy on fraud and corruption. The duty to detect and prevent incidents of fraud is within the purview of the Orange SL Ethics and Compliance unit.
Thus, the unit promotes a high level of staff awareness on the company’s legal commitments to fraud corruption especially whistle blowing.
The unit also encourages Orange SL staff to declare any conflict of interest in writing that may arise in the discharge of their duties.
Owing to the admirable anti-graft stance by Orange SL, the country’s Anti-corruption Commission Chief (ACC), Francis Ben Kaifala, has not hesitated to shower praises on Orange SL.
The ACC Chief was a recent guest to last year’s observance of Fraud awareness raising campaign at Orange SL.
“The emulation of such a novelty by other organisations would help them in curbing corruption in Sierra Leone,” the ACC Chief sums it all.
By Ralph Simeon Sesay