Gold Fields Ghana Foundation has earmarked over $800,000 this financial year for various projects in education in its primary stakeholder communities in the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality and the Prestea-Huni Valley District in the Western Region.
Out of the nearly $2 million the foundation spends on corporate social responsibility projects annually, about 40 per cent goes into education.
Gold Fields Ghana Limited, a gold mining company, established the foundation to provide development projects for communities in its operational areas to improve upon the living conditions of the people.
The Head of Corporate Affairs and Social Development of Gold Fields Ghana Limited, Dr Toni Aubynn, announced this at the opening ceremony of Gold Fields Ghana-Junior Achievement Innovation Camp/Business Challenge programme held in Tarkwa at the weekend for 100 students from six senior high schools in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality and the Prestea-Huni Valley District.
The schools are the Saint Augustine Senior High School at Bogoso, Fiaseman Senior High School at Tarkwa, Tarkwa Senior High School, Prestea Senior High/Technical School, Benso Senior High/Technical School and Huni Valley Senior High School.
The camp, which was sponsored by Gold Fields Ghana with GH¢20,000.00, engaged the students for some period in a business challenge competition to address a specific business challenge.
The students worked in teams of schools to come up with ideas which would best contribute to the solution of the challenge.
Dr Aubynn said Gold Fields Ghana had always demonstrated its commitment to youth development in its stakeholder communities, not only through the numerous schools and the other educational infrastructure it had built, but also through various the scholarships it had awarded to needy brilliant students in the area.
He explained that the company’s motivation for supporting the Junior Achievement Ghana and the 2009 Business Challenge made available to the schools stemmed from the company’s interest in developing the communities.
It also reflected importance Gold Fields Ghana attached to the enhancement of entrepreneurial skills and potentials of the youth.
“We are aware that one of the biggest social problems in Ghana, particularly with the youth, is the lack of entrepreneurial appreciation,” he said, adding, “The scanty efforts to run programmes that seek to develop the entrepreneurial skills of young people, particularly those in the senior high schools, were concentrated in the cities and urban centres and the so-called ivy league secondary schools.”
Dr Aubynn said the company shared in the strong belief that the spirit of entrepreneurship should be inculcated in the youth right from the secondary school level.
He noted that the country’s quest to attain a middle-income status, whether by 2015 or 2020, would be a complete mirage if effective efforts were not made to inculcate and harness the spirit of entrepreneurship in the youth.
“Ghana does not need the youth or high school graduates who will be helplessly seeking for non-existent jobs. Ghana needs the youth, or high school graduates who are entrepreneurial, critical, creative and innovative,” he stressed.
The General Manager of the Tarkwa Mine of Gold Fields Ghana, Mr Peet Van Schalkwyk, said the Innovation Camp was to inspire and prepare the students to succeed in the future.
He deplored the activities of illegal miners in the company’s concession, which he said did not safeguard the safety of the illegal miners themselves, the mine employees and the environment.
Mr Shalkwyk said there were about 2,125 illegal miners operating in the Damang Gold Mine of the company.
He expressed regret that although the Environmental Protection Agency was eager to do everything possible to stop any mining company whose activity degraded the environment, the agency was silent on the activities of the illegal gold miners whose activities were fast degrading the environment.
The Country Representative of Junior Achievement-Ghana, Mr Jefferson W. Agbai, explained that the programme would help the youth to succeed in the global economy.
He said it would also help them to be self-reliant and contribute to the development of the society, as well as to be financially literate.
At the end of the competition, the Saint Augustine Senior High School came first with 418 points, followed by Tarkwa Senior High School with 344 points and Fiaseman Senior High School with 342 points.
The Prestea Senior High/Technical School took the fourth position with 263 points, while the Benso Senior High/Technical School came fifth with 234 points followed by the Huni Valley Senior High School with 123 points.
They were given various prizes and certificates of participation.