DECEMBER 2013 SIERRA RUTILE FUNDS TRAINING FOR SCHOOL TEACHERS IN MINING COMMUNITIES FBC STUDENTS LEARN WHAT IT TAKES TO GET INTO THE MINING INDUSTRY Teachers from secondary schools in the mining communities around Sierra Rutile recently seized the opportunity to improve their subject knowledge and teaching skills, by taking part in a SRL-funded teacher training initiative aimed at providing local children with a better standard of education. Examiners from the West African Examination Council were contracted by Sierra Rutile to conduct two two-day training sessions in physics, chemistry, biology, maths and English language, for 45 local secondary school teachers. Joseph K. Sama teaches English at Impere Secondary School and found the sessions very useful. “I returned to the classroom and immediately began applying the techniques we were taught and have seen an improvement in the children’s learning as a result.” The role of education in poverty eradication has been widely demonstrated; Sierra Leone’s 2004 Living Standards Survey showed that poverty levels drop progressively as the education level of the household head increases, particularly in households headed by women. Similarly, figures from UNESCO indicate that 171 million people would be lifted out of poverty if all students in low income countries left school with basic reading skills. By introducing the Education Act 2004 and free primary education, the Government of Sierra Leone has significantly raised the enrolment levels of boys and girls. However challenges remain, not least of which is the need for teachers’ skills to be kept up to date. Architect of Sierra Rutile’s scheme is its Community Affairs Manager, Prince Cotay. With a background in secondary education he has first-hand knowledge of the needs of Sierra Leone’s schools. “We must have great teachers if we want our children to get the great results our country needs for its future development,” he says. “Sierra Rutile has a tradition of supporting education – we fund scholarships, build and refurbish schools, provide learning materials and support a local roving library. With this scheme however, we are making a direct investment in the skills and knowledge of teachers which will benefit every child they teach. In its Agenda for Prosperity and in the Education Sector Plan for Sierra Leone, the Government highlights the need to improve the quality of teaching, making in-service training of teachers one of its priority activities. We are delighted that Sierra Rutile is able to contribute in this way.” … AND LOCAL SCHOOLS GET A HELPING HAND Since Sierra Rutile built the Impere Secondary School in 1970, the company has continued to support education for children in the mining communities to the joy of the 153 school children of Nyandehun Village, who are looking forward to the completion of their new school. Thanks to funding from Sierra Rutile, the children, who are currently taught in two crumbling barries will be moving into a six-classroom school later this month. In October, the University of Sierra Leone’s 2013 Jobs Fair hosted representatives from Sierra Rutile, who introduced students to the company and explained the skills and knowledge necessary for a career in the mining industry. Fourah Bay College's (FBC) Nuclear Physics Laboratory also received a 45KVA generator and two air conditioning units from Sierra Rutile, so that students will be able to make regular use of the lab’s facilities and acquire crucial experience. Andy Taylor, Sierra Rutile’s Head of Operations, said that working with Fourah Bay College was a reflection of Sierra Rutile’s commitment to developing a sustainable and skilled Sierra Leonean workforce: “Today’s students are the workforce of tomorrow and we are keen to ensure that FBC students have an understanding of what the mining industry expects from its future employees, so that they focus on acquiring the skills, knowledge and learning they will need to succeed.” Increasing the country’s skills pool is of critical importance to Sierra Rutile’s Localisation Plan, an initiative which will increase the number of Sierra Leoneans in its managerial, technical and supervisory positions by fast tracking their career development. Although it already has a workforce which is 95% Sierra Leonean, the company identified the opportunity to create a more sustainable workforce by training and developing a new generation of Sierra Leoneans to step into key positions. SIERRA RUTILE SUPPORTS WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT BY STRENGTHENING THEIR LIVELIHOODS Other local schools have also been glad of a helping hand from the company. One such school can be found in the village of Madina, where two long blue and white classrooms recently welcomed their first students. Made possible by the dedication of Francis Mustapha, a local man, the building of Madina Village School took two years and a lot of neighbourly help, including the use of Sierra Rutile’s haulage fleet for clearing land as well as transporting and unloading a 40ft shipping container. Sierra Rutile is now constructing a block of four ventilated improved pit latrines for the school. Francis Mustapha is enthusiastic about the willingness of Sierra Rutile to help the school, saying: “Andy Taylor, Sierra Rutile’s Head of Operations, has been instrumental in recognising this opportunity for Sierra Rutile to leave behind an important and permanent benefit for its neighbouring communities of Madina and Mosenesie.” At the launch of Livelihood Restoration Sierra Rutile’s recently launched Livelihood Restoration Project provides a series of training programmes aimed at helping women in the surrounding mining communities improve their standard of living through economic activities, and savings and micro-credit groups. Studies of women in mining villages show that they can experience the consequences of mining projects in substantially different and often more marked ways than men. Sierra Rutile’s CEO, John Sisay says: “Empowering women is one of the pillars of the Government’s Agenda for Prosperity. Our programme of Livelihood Restoration is a practical and sustainable response towards meeting the needs and interests of women in our host communities. It is intended to contribute to the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment in this region, and go some way towards fulfilling our responsibilities in the area of community development.” At the Madina Village School Andy Taylor at the Madina Village School Opening Projects funded by Sierra Rutile include an entrepreneurship programme run by the YWCA for women in Moriba Town and Mogbwemo which will train participants in bread baking and market gardening, as well as provide essential business skills. Training in fish processing will help improve the techniques of 120 fish processors and fishmongers leading to a better quality product which will command a better price at market. CODOHSAPA, a community savings and micro-credit initiative, has already supported the setting up of 52 successful community savings groups across the country and is bringing its expertise to a further six communities in the chiefdoms around Sierra Rutile.