Children in the Shinyanga region of Tanzania will now be able to pursue their studies in a facility that some claim may be one of the best primary schools in the country.
The new Ishinabulandi Primary School is the result of a collaborative effort by Barrick Gold and the community to provide a better education for children near the company’s Buzwagi mining project.
The new school was built to replace the original, smaller facility that was partially relocated during the construction of power lines needed to supply electricity to Barrick Gold’s Buzwagi project.
As a further benefit, the Buzwagi power substation has been configured to be able to supply electricity to homes and businesses in the region in the future.
The company had been required by government to invest US$225,000 to replace the former school. Instead, Barrick Gold Tanzania more than doubled that amount, investing US$600,000 to construct a vastly improved facility – one that had the unwavering support of the community, gave children room to learn, and teachers a place to call home.
The design of the new school was based on extensive input from its headmaster, Mr. Mathias, and community leaders. The facility features 12 fully furnished classrooms, staff offices and housing for 11 teachers. It’s a big improvement over the previous school, which had only eight classrooms to accommodate 650 students and housing for just four teachers.
Barrick Gold also funded the construction of washrooms and 17 water tanks to collect rain water, with plans for upgrades including a water well, a pump and electricity for the teachers’ housing and offices.
The new playground is fully equipped with swings, slides and roundabouts, and features a soccer field and a netball court.
Over 1,200 people attended the school’s inauguration, including Tanzanian Vice President Ali Mohammed Shein. He addressed students, parents and community members on the importance of supporting children in their education. “The government wants a literate nation,” he said. “But education of our children should not be left to teachers alone.”
Shein, who is particularly concerned with the drop-out rates of girls, urged every parent and neighbor to play a role in the attendance, academic studies and development of Tanzania’s future leaders. He also thanked Barrick Gold for its assistance. “Barrick did not do all this work just because it had the money to spend, but rather out of a commitment to support the community and help to improve education,” Shein said.
Gareth Taylor, Barrick Gold’s vice president for Africa, was also present at the school’s inauguration. He spoke to the Ishinabulandi students and expressed his excitement about the opportunities that lay ahead of them. “It is a pleasure to see the benefits of a mine that hasn’t even been constructed yet,” said Taylor. “The school will have a positive impact on the area’s youth and the community at large.”
To celebrate the school’s opening, each student was invited to plant an orange tree seedling, creating two orange groves with over 650 trees. Headmaster Mathias, who ardently believes that he now runs the best primary school in the country, looks forward to the day when his students will be able to harvest oranges as a healthy snack.