Face of the future
Shigi Madinda spends his summer days making soil bricks. For every brick he makes, he earns 25 Tanzanian shillings, or about two cents. In a day, he can make up to 50 bricks, brining home the equivalent of nearly $1.
It is hard labour and the pay is low, but Madinda needs the work. He helps his mother, who is a subsistence farmer, support his two younger siblings. His father died in 1995, leaving the family with only one source of income.
Life is hard for subsistence farmers in Igwamanoni village, where the family lives in northwestern Tanzania. They don’t own enough land to meet the family’s food requirements, so they must rent an additional acre during the rainy season at a cost of $20.
Madinda always knew his chances of continuing his education past primary school were slim. He was accepted into secondary school and had high marks, but could not afford to pay the school fees or buy the required uniform and supplies. He turned down his acceptance.
His story is a familiar one for Tanzanian families living in poverty. For them, education – especially beyond the primary level – is still considered a luxury.
“Barriers exist for many children wanting to continue their education,” says Nerys John, manager of Community Relations for African Barrick Gold. “Here in Tanzania, we are making very significant investments to build schools and provide teacher training and scholarship programs.”
It was through one of the company’s scholarship programs that Madinda found himself sitting in a secondary school classroom with his peers. After turning down his acceptance at the Bugarama Secondary School, Madinda was referred by the headmaster to a sponsorship program at Bulyanhulu mine, not far from his village.
Operating since 2008, the program allows company employees to donate a portion of their earnings to help students from disadvantaged families pay for their schooling. Madinda is one of nearly 300 children who have benefited from the program, which covers all school expenses. The company’s Tulawaka mine also has a similar program for impoverished children to attend high school.
Over the last few years, the education system in Tanzania has undergone a massive transformation, with the government stepping up its efforts to increase enrollment in primary education. In 2005, school user fees for children attending the first seven grades were removed. The move has been welcomed by Tanzanians and civil society organizations as a very positive step toward more equitable access to education.
Yet funding constraints for the country’s education sector remain, particularly for higher education. For marginalized families facing extreme poverty, even the lower costs of buying uniforms or supplies can make it difficult to afford to send children to school. While enrollment in schools continues to increase, the completion rate for secondary education in Tanzania is low. The most common reason for children dropping out of school is a lack of funding.
“I am very thankful to Barrick and its employees. I no longer worry about my school expenses. I use my spare time to study,” he said. “My mother is very happy too that she is no longer in debt because of my school expenses.”
Today, Madinda is dreaming of becoming a doctor. During summer holidays, he still lays bricks to help his family. But during the school year, he focuses on his studies. “I never miss a day of school,” he said.
“Education isn’t just about building a classroom,” John said. “We need to make sure the community as a whole is healthy with access to proper nutrition, employment and infrastructure. One piece fits with the others.”
African Barrick Gold operates four mines in northwest Tanzania. Since 2004, Barrick Gold has contributed more than $40 million to support community development. The company has built 10 primary and two secondary schools in Tanzania and contributed to the construction of dozens of other related projects.
Comprehensive support for education
Barrick Gold contributed $600,000 to rebuild the Ishinabulandi Primary School and $250,000 to rebuild Masengwa school after floods devastated the area in 2007. The new Mwendakulima Secondary School will open next year.
The company provided building supplies for primary schools in five village, the Mwingiro Secondary School and Tinde Girls Hostel.
The Mavota Primary School has undergone complete reconstruction and expansion with support from Barrick Gold. Mavota students now have a new secondary school to attend — the first for the remote community in Lusahunga Ward. Once all construction of the Nyantakara school is completed with help from the community and the District, the new high school will feature 14 equipped classrooms.
Over 450 teachers have taken part in a skills training program created by the company in collaboration with a local teachers college and government.
A number of company scholarship programs are helping students achieve their potential. For example, at the North Mara mine, a royalty scholarship program has contributed more than $1.6 million to help nearly 5,000 students pursue higher education. The mine has also invested over $100,000 on scholarships to educate students with strong leadership potential.
Higher Learning and Mining
The company has contributed millions more in financial support to higher learning institutions to build the technical skills of Tanzanians, along with coop programs, donations of equipment and guest lectures by employees.