Platinum Group Metals (PGM) miner, Zimplats, today handed over two classroom blocks and ablution facilities that were constructed at a cost of about US$380,000 to the authorities at Turf Primary School in Mhondoro Ngezi District as part of its efforts to de-congest the elementary school.
The investment, which forms part of Zimplats’ ongoing social performance programme, was officially handed over to the Mhondoro Ngezi Rural District Council (MNRDC), which operates the school, by the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution in Mashonaland West Province, Hon Marian Chombo, who was the Guest of Honour.
The school has an enrolment of about 3,000 pupils from the fast-growing Turf Town and its hinterland. Due to inadequate infrastructure, some of the pupils at the school have been learning under harsh conditions, hence the intervention by Zimplats, which has been welcomed by both the school’s authorities and the communities around it.
Zimplats’ Chief Executive Officer, Mr Alex Mhembere, said by investing in the education sector, they were seeking to create conducive conditions for both learners and their teachers, especially in the rural areas where schools are constrained by the unavailability of resources. This is in line with Zimplats’ purpose of creating a better future for all its stakeholders, including communities surrounding its operations in Ngezi and Selous.
At Turf Primary School, he said Zimplats has been upgrading the school through the construction of additional classrooms, staff houses, and ablution facilities, in a bid to decongest the institution.
“The latest project, which falls under Phase 3 of the school’s expansion programme, saw us constructing two classroom blocks and ablution facilities. Each block has four classes, which will take 40 pupils each, thus absorbing 320 learners in total,” said Mr Mhembere.
This will go a long way in improving the teacher-to-student ratio from an average of 1:55 to 1:40, in what could also enhance the learning environment and pass rates.
“Our philosophy is that the greatest form of empowerment that one can ever benefit from is when they free-up their minds through education, which enables them to come up with solutions to life’s challenges,” said Mr Mhembere.
Speaking during the handover of the facilities, Hon Chombo, commended Zimplats for assisting MNRDC in improving the quality of infrastructure at the school and challenged other corporates throughout the country to take a leaf from the PGM miner whose interventions extends beyond education to community wellness, infrastructure development and local enterprise development.
In FY2023, Zimplats spent US$4,7 million in corporate social investment programmes, up from US$3,4m in FY2022.
“They (Zimplats) deserve a pat on the back because they can never be any wiser choice than this in the sense that education is the most powerful investment in our children’s future and that of our nation,” said Hon Chombo.
“The education sector is still suffering from lack of financial resources, inadequate equipment (no libraries, textbooks computers etc.), and poor working conditions for the teachers. Government alone, will not be able to bring up these school to the desired levels without the support from the private sector. This is why the Second Republic is placing so much emphasis on public private sector partnership, popularly known by the acronym PPPs.
“So how can we get more people in school, improve learning skills, and produce graduates who are able to contribute to the growth of our country? We must take a leaf from Zimplats by investing more in education. Concurrent with these efforts, we must invest more effectively in learning, improving learning assessment and being accountable to communities for education results. We must invest more equitably to make sure people who are most in need have access to quality learning,” she said.
Over the years, Zimplats has spent a great deal of resources in schools within its footprint. Last year, it handed over projects that encompassed solar power systems to provide electricity to classrooms and teachers’ houses at Chingondo Secondary School and Tangwena Primary and Secondary Schools in the same district.
The projects also included the sinking of a solar-powered borehole to provide potable water to the schools and their surrounding communities and renovations of administration offices and classrooms. Both Tangwena and Chingondo schools were each equipped with computer laboratories, complete with 20 desktop computers each, two HP Printers each and furniture.
Several other schools in the Mhondoro-Ngezi and Chegutu districts have also been beneficiaries of projects initiated by Zimplats in the past two decades of their existence, and these include St Michaels School; David Guzuzu School; Rutara Primary School; Saruwe Primary School; Marshal Hartley School; Saruwe Secondary School; Wanganui Primary School, and Wanganui Secondary School.
Mr Mhembere said their interventions in education were largely meant to improve the quality of learning in rural schools, and its relevance to the country’s ever-changing needs. In the next five years, emphasis shall be on science, technology, engineering, maths, and computer science to enable our schools to produce students that quickly find their feet as the country moves ahead with its re-industrialisation, to ensure that no one is left behind in line with his Excellency, The President’s vision for the country.
Zimplats is a member of Impala Platinum Holdings and is located on the Hartley Geological Complex on the Great Dyke, which is south-west of the capital city, Harare. The Company is in the business of producing platinum group and associated metals. It began its operations in 2001 and currently operates five underground mines that supply ore to four concentrator modules (three at Ngezi and the fourth one at Selous). Production from the mining operations is processed by the four concentrators and then further refined at the Selous Metallurgical Complex in Selous where the smelter is located. Zimplats employs over 9000 employees both own employees and contractors.