A successful partnership with the community of Mataquita created Peru’s first rural technical school, improving access to education and opportunities for young people in the area. At the same time, Barrick Gold worked with local residents to improve the quality of life for everyone in the community through a complete urban redevelopment.
It all started in 2002, when Barrick Gold conducted a socioeconomic study in the community, located near the company’s Pierina mine in north-central Peru. The purpose was to identify needs and priorities, with the goal of improving the quality of life for local residents. Using that study, Barrick Gold worked with community representatives to develop a plan for fostering sustainable development in the area.
The study found that the dispersed structure of the community, with homes scattered along the mountainside, was presenting serious barriers to sustainable community development and hindering Mataquita’s education system.
To address these challenges, Barrick Gold established a partnership with local contractors and community leaders to develop clear goals. Together, the working group recommended a centralized urban infrastructure. They also resolved to construct a rural technical school, combat illiteracy and improve overall access to education in the community. Barrick Gold offered to provide financial support, along with building supplies and technical guidance.
By the end of 2006, Mataquita had its first urban center. Sixty-five houses were built using local engineering expertise around what would become the settlement’s core. These simple yet modern homes replaced the community’s traditional, one-room houses, most of which lacked basic sanitation and electricity. As part of the community-building project, roads to Mataquita were improved and the town was connected to the local electricity grid. A communal laundry facility was constructed, along with a dining hall for children and senior citizens. The new houses were also built with sanitary facilities and reservoirs for drinking water.
Students from the Mataquita community previously faced two major challenges. Many lived great distances from the local school, which led to high absentee rates. Plus, there was no access to education above a grade three level. To address these issues, Barrick Gold worked with the community to build Peru’s first rural technical school, located within the new urban development at Mataquita. The company also facilitated technical training for its teachers. The new urban development allowed students to live within a short walking distance of their classrooms, and the school offers both primary and higher education.
Local children, some of whom would have previously begun working at the age of eight or nine, are now able to continue their studies, with courses in carpentry, computers and clothing manufacturing. Fifteen computers have also been installed and this year the school will open two additional workshops for electrical studies and mechanics.
The results thus far are very promising. Already the student population has jumped from just 30 students to 154. The program has established the school as an important center for children and it is now accepting students from other nearby communities.