18 February 2009
ArcelorMittal South Africa is to build 10 new schools over seven years at a cost of R250-million, the first being a new primary school in the township of Mamelodi outside Pretoria.
Mamelodi Primary is scheduled for completion by the end of the year, and the remaining nine schools, two in the Eastern Cape and one each in the rest of the provinces, will be built to guidelines provided by the Department of Education.
South African first
In a first for South Africa, Mamelodi Primary School will be built using insulated panels technology, which relies heavily on steel as a building material. It can withstand extreme weather conditions, is fire-resistant and 10 times faster to erect than using conventional building technologies.
“The role and participation of the private sector is critical to the success of our quest to provide resources to our schools,” Education Minister Naledi Pandor said at the sod-turning ceremony in Mamelodi earlier this month.
“Public-private partnerships are important in order that basic services reach all communities.”
She voiced her department’s support for such initiatives, saying that they improved the quality of the education system, while also being an investment in the country’s future.
“This donation clearly illustrates the commitment of our business community to education,” she said.
Investing in education, training and skills
For ArcelorMittal, the Mamelodi project is part of its strategy of investing heavily in education, training and skills development. This includes promoting maths and science at high schools, an extensive bursary programme for artisans, engineers and other technical skills, and upgrading the skills of its own employees.
The investment not only ensures that the company has a pool of skilled resources for its own operations, but also towards addressing the country’s skills shortage in general.
ArcelorMittal is one of the companies that have committed themselves to producing more artisans than they needs for its own businesses, as part of the government’s Jipsa programme.
“ArcelorMittal is focused on developing a strong mathematics, science and technology culture amongst schools,” said ArcelorMittal South Africa CEO Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita.
“The company’s array of education initiatives is geared towards improving education within targeted communities, promoting scientific literacy and enhancing performance at secondary school level in order to benefit the wider economy.”
Centres of science, excellence
Over the past three years, ArcelorMittal has invested some R22-million in a Science Centre and a Centre of Excellence in a renovated teacher’s college in Sebokeng township near Vanderbijlpark in the Vaal Triangle.
The centre offers facilities for both learners and educators to upgrade their knowledge of science, mathematics and information technology (IT), and is offered to 43 secondary schools in Gauteng province’s Sedibeng West District.
In December last year, the steel maker signed a memorandum of understanding with the Western Cape Department of Education for the development of a science centre in the Vredenburg and Saldanha Bay area at an estimated cost of R6-million, to be operational by the second half of 2009.
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