GOLD Fields Ghana Limited (Tarkwa Mine) has constructed a modern one-storey office complex for the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipal Directorate of the Ghana Education Service in the Western Region at a cost of US$273,000.
The project is the company’s contribution to the country’s golden jubilee celebration.
The Municipal Directorate of the Ghana Education Service (GES) has worked for 48 years in a temporary building which could not accommodate all the staff.
The gold mining company has also completed other projects, including the construction of an aqua privy toilet facility for the people of Abekoase, a bridge and a link road at Tebe as well as a community centre for the people of Pepesa at a total cost of US$114,000.
All the projects were sponsored by the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation. Since the establishment of the foundation in 2002, the company has invested nearly US$10 million in social development initiatives in the communities in its Tarkwa and Damang catchment areas.
The Board of Trustees of the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation has approved social investment projects worth more than US$2 million for the stakeholder communities of its Tarkwa and Damang mines for the 2009 financial year.
Some of the projects to be implemented in the next year include the development of community oil palm plantation at Apinto in the Bosomtwi Traditional Area on a pilot basis, the tarring of the two-kilometre New Atuabo town roads, the construction of a health facility at Damang, and the establishment of a commercial fish farm at Tarkwa.
The Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Mrs Angelina Baiden-Amissah, who inaugurated the office complex, said the project that was the company’s corporate social responsibility had in no small way demonstrated how the company was committed to partner the government in making the education reform a reality.
She said the government had improved the educational sector by upgrading teacher training colleges to diploma awarding institutions as well as the institution of distance learning programmes to enable teachers to upgrade themselves.
“There is, therefore, the need to pool our efforts together and include all stakeholders to make the education reform a success because a country without an educational focus is not moving forward,” she added.
Mrs Baiden-Amissah appealed to the GES to make maximum use of the facility and evolve a pragmatic maintenance culture to prolong the life-span of the building.
“Judging from what Goldfields has done for the GES, l would implore all teachers to show their support and appreciation by working hard, preparing lesson notes and teaching aids for effective teaching,” she stressed.
The deputy minister also appealed to the chiefs, parents and the community to discourage children of school-age from embarking on illegal gold mining activities in the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality, stressing that “they need to be in school because education is free at the basic level”.
The Managing Director of Gold Fields Ghana, Mr Johan Botha, explained that the object of the foundation was to ensure that the communities in which the company operated reaped sustainable benefits from the presence of the company through investment in socio-economic projects.
“Since the establishment of the foundation, the company has invested nearly $10 million on social development initiatives in its Tarkwa and Damang catchment communities. In the last three years, for example, an average of about $2 million has been invested in such projects for the benefit of its stakeholder communities at both Tarkwa and Damang mines,” he stated.
Mr Botha said education received the largest allocation of the foundation’s annual budget, adding that “about 33 per cent of the community development expenditure has been spent on education”.
He said that surely underscored the importance Gold Fields Ghana attached to the improvement on the educational levels in the communities in which the company was operating.
According to Mr Botha, more than 200 students in both the Tarkwa and Damang mines were currently benefiting from a scholarship scheme instituted by the company.
He said within the past three years, the company, through the foundation, had assisted the University of Mines and Technology at Tarkwa to the tune of more than $250,000 on various projects, including the establishment of V-Sat Internet facility, acquisition of some geotechnical equipment and the construction of a Geological Engineering Laboratory.
He said $100,000 had been approved by the foundation to help the university to complete the construction of the laboratory.
The Director General of the Ghana Education Service, Mr Samuel Bannerman-Mensah, said the priority of the government was to empower the GES to provide quality education for all children in the country.
That goal, he said, could only be achieved through effective decentralisation where Metropolitan, District and Municipal education offices were well resourced to provide the services required.
The Head of Corporate Affairs and Social Development of Gold Fields Ghana, Dr Toni Aubynn, said the key areas of the company’s social development projects and programmes were education, health, water and sanitation, income enhancement, and other infrastructure improvement.
“We in Gold Fields Ghana firmly believe that the presence of the mine has created a centrifuge for various economic activities in Tarkwa and its environs”, he noted.
Dr Toni Aubynn added: “We are witnesses to the current vibrant economy of Tarkwa, represented by the increasing number of banks and other services such as transportation, food, hotels, construction and general businesses”.