Preston man wins BT social innovation of the year award
A BT manager from Preston has received a top award for his innovation and determination to help disadvantaged children in Zambia. Fletcher Kusaloka took decommissioned computers to the country so that more than 250 students could sit their ICT exams.
Online electronics retailer dabs.com, which is part of BT Business where Fletcher works, recently changed its desktop computers for new ones. So when Fletcher read that the Zambian government was introducing ICT into the school curriculum but weren’t providing computers yet, he hatched an idea to send the newly redundant equipment.
Getting his bosses’ agreement to re-use the computers was easy, but delivering them proved a lot tougher.
He had to overcome many obstacles getting them to the Zambian village of Mwinilunga. These included the courier pulling out 24 hours before pick-up; five days of paperwork with customs, three government departments and 12 offices and a drive of over 11 hours to reach the final destination, five of it on a gravel road and with no petrol stations en route, carrying his own petrol.
He received the Social Innovation of the Year award at the BT Chairman’s Awards from BT chairman Sir Michael Rake.
Fletcher explained how his effort and determination was all worth it: “I didn’t realise how desperate the Mwinilunga village was for computers. If they hadn’t received them when they did, the school would have had to cancel the ICT exams.
“But, thanks to the decommissioned computers from BT, more than 250 students at the high school studied ICT and sat exams. Some even waited until 11pm on exam day for their turn at the computer. And around 70 teachers use them too.
“The school now tops Zambian league tables for pupils sitting ICT exams. And that makes me really proud.”
The local community, including two other schools, benefited too, using the school as an internet “hub”.
Fletcher is a buyer at Dabs. He lives in Preston with his wife and children and works in Bolton.
More information on the BT Chairman’s Awards - www.btchairmansawards.com
Video about Fletcher’s work - https://www.btchairmansawards.com/video/91
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