FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 28, 2022
PUTTING EDUCATION AT THE CENTRE OF SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOLWEZI, ZAMBIA – Education is the most solid foundation that anyone can have, and it is an important ingredient in any government’s plans to improve the social and economic development of its country.Despite the delivery of social services remaining the responsibility of the government, the corporate world has a moral obligation to complement the government’s efforts in improving the livelihoods of its host communities through Corporate Social Investment programmes.
To ensure local communities receive the maximum benefit from the mine’s presence, First Quantum Minerals has partnered with the government, traditional leaders, and various organisations to help improve the quality of education and expand career prospects for local youth.
FQM’s efforts to improve the livelihoods of the communities surrounding its mining operations in Solwezi and Kalumbila Districts of North-Western Province are framed by a broader vision of how corporate support can have the most impact, and in this case improve the education standards and advance literacy levels.
The company has over the years stepped up its campaign to end poverty, fight inequality, and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind in the communities where it operates.
First Quantum has also recognised the key role that dialogue with the government, civil society, communities, and other stakeholders plays in enhancing access to quality education for local people.
However, in response to communities’ and civil societies’ calls for improved livelihoods through education support, the mining firm has to date spent more than US$100 million on corporate social investment programmes, which have been aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. And in this case, SDG 4, aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Through its education improvement programme, the quality of education, measured through home-developed literacy and numeracy assessments has risen from a baseline of 26% in 2012 to 45% in 2014 and 2015. And mine-supported schools are more than 10 percentage points better in literacy than schools not supported by the mine, as well as the reduction in differences between town school and rural schools in spelling, reading and writing abilities.
Under its School Improvement Programme, the company is also supporting a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme, where school heads and teachers in various schools across the province are provided with training on modern teaching methods, including action plans for implementation.
The mining company has partnered with a consortium of civil society organisations, various governmental departments, and the community to come up with interventions to help local people access quality education in a way that aligns with their requirements.
First Quantum believes that improving access to quality education needs a holistic approach, and this has to be done by investing at all levels of the education system, from primary, and secondary through to university and technical training.
The company has underscored the vital role skills training and knowledge transfer play in combating youth unemployment and driving sustainable development in the local economy. The development of the local economy in which the mining firm operates is a key priority.
FQM has continued providing an array of opportunities to young people ranging from scholarships at higher learning institutions to community skills training which includes, local business development, conservation farming, as well as empowerment through sport.
This goal encompasses FQM’s extensive education programmes at both its Kansanshi and FQM Trident mines, including infrastructure support, support for Early Childhood Education, the school feeding programme, and the Kansanshi Quality Education Improvement Programme (KanEQuIP), Kwambula and Solwezi Trades Training programmes.
Every year since 2013, Kansanshi mine has acquired and donated a consignment of books to the government as part of the mining firm’s education development programme. So far, FQM has donated over 150,000 books – most of them textbooks – to the district.
The company also awarded vulnerability scholarships to about 400 children in 2021, before the introduction of free education. Recently the company also donated 220,000 exercise books. The donation of exercise books now means that, rather than giving direct assistance to just 400 children, the mine is assisting the parents of more than 32,000 children, who will receive the books.
In line with the government’s policy of local procurement, First Quantum Minerals has also partnered with the Solwezi Trades Training Institute (SOTTI) to make 2,000 school desks.
FQM believes that quality education is the key to success and is passionate about creating access to better schools for children in local communities.The company has a high school scholarship programme, where it has been giving 24 pupils with exceptional academic potential a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pursue their secondary and A-level studies on full scholarships at some of the most prestigious schools in the country – FQM’s Trident College and Sentinel Kabitaka School.
The scholarship programme was established in 2012, creating a clear path for pupils with exceptional academic records to access quality education.
Access to quality education has long been a near-insurmountable obstacle for low-income households in Zambia – severely limiting their chances of escaping poverty through entrepreneurship or decent employment.
This has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak, with micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) – typically the main source of revenue for low-income households – bearing the brunt of the negative economic impact. It is for this reason that First Quantum Minerals has put improving access to quality education at the top of its Corporate Social Investment strategy.
About First Quantum Minerals Ltd
First Quantum Minerals Ltd is a global metals and mining company producing mainly copper, gold and zinc. The company’s assets are in Zambia, Spain, Mauritania, Australia, Finland, Turkey, Panama, Argentina and Peru.
In 2021, First Quantum globally produced 816,435 tonnes of copper, 312,492 ounces of gold and 16,818 tonnes of nickel.
In Zambia it operates the Kansanshi mine and smelter in Solwezi and the Sentinel mine in Kalumbila.
The company is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
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