By MARTIN MUSUNKA
FIRST Quantum Minerals (FQM) at its US$2 billion Kalumbila Mine investment in North Western Province, has picked up momentum in the area of corporate social investment by engaging the local communities in education, health and agriculture.
Kalumbila Minerals Limited, which carries out its philanthropic activities through Trident Founcation will distribute 1,000 desks and circulate educational pads with the preloaded Zambian curriculum to schools in North-Western Province by mid-2016.
Schools scheduled to receive desks are Musele, Kalumbila North, Wanyima, Kankozhi, Jiundu, Musangezhi, Musanda, Kachiwezhi primary schools, Kisasa basic school, Jiundu secondary school and Nkisu and Mbole community schools.
Four of the schools are beneficiaries of educational pads, Zedupads, which are pre-loaded with iSchool lessons covering the entire Zambian curriculum.
The mining company, through the Trident Foundation, has so far distributed a total of 622 desks valued at K730,000, says Community Engagement Officer Alex Mapapayi.
The desks are constructed by Trident Foundation’s furniture factory after adding value to locally sourced timber from trees cleared for mining operations.
“We have been distributing desks to local schools since June 2015 and this programme has been well received by beneficiary communities as well as other stakeholders in education. Our target is to have distributed the first 1,000 desks before mid-year this year,” Mr Mapapayi says.
He notes that local schools have suffered a strain on furniture because of high enrolment numbers arising from increased populations attracted mining activities in the area.
Mr Mapapayi says the mining company has weighed in to help provide furniture as a way of contributing to improved quality education. FQM will ensure that all the local schools are supplied with desks.
Out of the 622 desks which have so far been distributed, Kalumbila North Primary School has received 26 which the head-teacher Stanley Katoba says has helped ease the furniture pressure in classrooms.
“We are very thankful to Kalumbila Mine for coming to our rescue because the enrolment levels here are very high and the donation of 26 desks so far, has helped us a great deal,” Mr Katoba observes.
At Musele Primary School, Head-Teacher Justin Chibiya says the donation of 130 desks has motivated pupils. Mr Chibiya sees the gesture by FQM as a contributing factor to increased attendance levels.
He reports that apart from school desks, Kalumbila Minerals made a huge corporate social contribution of erecting a 1 x3 classroom block and three teachers’ houses.
Kankozhi Primary School Deputy Head Teacher Daniel Kapikila is pleased that his school is collaborating well with Kalumbila Mine as evidenced by the donation of 150 desks, which has helped reduce tension in classrooms.
He salutes Kalumbila Mine for always being on hand to offer various social interventions which include sports events and health outreach programmes to the school and surrounding communities through the FQM health team.
“We are happy here because Kalumbila Mine is always thinking of us because they extend most of their activities to us. We recently had a team from their health department which came to sensitise us on cholera, malaria and HIV/AIDS which I think is a good stance by the mine,” Mr Kapikila said.
And Mr Mapapayi says the mining company spent K426,930.10 on the acquisition of Zedupads, in the mining company’s desire to effectively equip teachers to deliver meaningful education to the learners.
A Zedupad, approved by Government, is a seven-inch 800 by 480 dual-core capacitive touch-screen tablet which has a built-in camera and sound, Wifi-enabled with up to nine hours of battery life, pre-loaded with all learning materials in the Zambian curriculum.
Mr Mapayayi explains that FQM Kalumbila deliberately picked on four schools—Wanyima, Musele, Kalumbila North and Kankonzhi—for the iSchool pilot programme and is glad with the overwhelming response the programme is receiving. Mr Mapapayi says the mining company felt duty-bound to be part of a progressive exercise of making a difference to the local people through enhanced educational programmes.
He said, as a measure of maximum attention to the programme, FQM Kalumbila engaged a mentor, Elizabeth Ngenda, whose objective is to monitor the teachers and pupils to ensure that the programme is well implemented.
“We have taken up this exercise seriously and we have procured Zedupads for all the pilot schools. We have also engaged a mentor, who is being paid by us, to go round all the schools for mentoring and monitoring process. So far, the feedback is positive and we are happy that we are part of this programme,” Mr Mapapayi said.
Teacher Rabbecca Kateule thinks the Zedupads have simplified the method of teaching and pupils are finding learning easier. – Feature courtesy of SUMA SYSTEMS.