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In 21 days, 56 libraries and eight ICT labs were established, 10 classrooms were constructed, and four online learning platforms created, in 22 countries across Africa and the Middle East, by 10 450 volunteers.

The fruits of these and numerous other efforts, which were part of MTN’s 21 Days of Y’ello Care programme this year, are set to benefit more than 140 000 people, and make a sustainable impact on education in Africa and the Middle East. Held annually between 1 and 21 June, Y’ello Care is MTN’s employee volunteer programme which focuses on giving back to communities in the area of education.

Each year, MTN Group recognises the operations with the most impactful Y’ello Care projects. For their hard work during the 2016 edition of the programme, MTN employees in Ivory Coast woke up to news today that they have received the coveted Group President and CEO prize of US $100 000, to further invest in community projects.

The beneficiary of MTN Ivory Coast’s primary Y’ello Care initiative was the Marchoux Elementary School, a public school located about a kilometre away from the Marchoux Village in the country’s Bingerville municipality. The area is inhabited primarily by people suffering from leprosy, and those from underprivileged backgrounds.

In recent years, the area has seen an influx of displaced persons from Abidjan, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the population. As such, the school has been unable to meet the increasing enrolment demand due to limited capacity, and many children were placed on waiting lists with no certainty when they would receive access.

In June 2016, 663 employees of MTN Ivory Coast, together with government, partners and members of the community, descended on the school, determined to make the lives of the community brighter by providing all children with the opportunity to go to school.

The team built seven classrooms, to accommodate an additional 350 children, and significantly improve learning conditions at the school.

CEO of MTN Ivory Coast, Freddy Tchala, says volunteerism is close to the hearts of employees. “As MTNers, it is important to go back to real life and see the things that matter to people, see how we can contribute and make an impact on their lives. This year, the same as every year, the Ivory Coast team and every MTNer, was committed to make an impact in their environment. Being recognised with the CEO Award is a surprise because the teams don’t do the activities for the prize, but really to make a difference. The prize is important, but it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is the smile we put on people’s faces. We will continue working and giving back to the community.”

The initiative at Marchoux Elementary School was just one of the many projects undertaken by MTN employees during Y’ello Care 2016. These ranged from ICT training, coding and robotics camps, and the construction of classrooms and libraries, to rolling out digital learning platforms and laying fibre to enable school connectivity.

Other MTN operations recognised with Y’ello Care awards include:

  • MTN Swaziland, recipient of the Vice President Award for the SEA region: MTN Swaziland focused on the integration of ICT in education to stimulate innovation. Their programme included a coding, robotics and programming camp, as well as the development of a school application to simplify management of student information; and the roll-out of “Clicker 7,” software, which supports children with learning difficulties.
  • MTN Sudan, recipient of the Vice President Award for the MENA region: The team in Sudan established and distributed 50 MTN free mini libraries. They also created an audio library for visually impaired students, and trained teachers on how to use the interactive whiteboard.
  • MTN Cameroon, recipient of the Vice President Award for the WECA region: The MTN Cameroon team prioritised the education of children suffering from aural deficiency. Staff constructed a multi-purpose building at IDAV, an institution for deaf children, to enhance the enrolment capacity of the facility. Seven other facilities catering for physically challenged children also benefited from the team’s efforts.

Each of these operations will receive US$ 30 000 to invest into their communities.

Chris Maroleng, Executive for Corporate Affairs at MTN Group, congratulated all of the award recipients and every employee who participated in the programme, saying: “Y’ello Care is an opportunity for MTN employees to give back to their local communities. Each year they do so with unwavering passion and commitment. I commend MTN Ivory Coast employees and those from across our operations for their amazing work during the 2016 edition of the programme. These efforts are humbling and inspiring, and will truly make a sustainable difference across our footprint, change lives and positively impact generations for years to come.”