President Jacob Zuma joined Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) CEO Chris Griffiths in handing over the newly built Ethridge Junior Secondary School in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape on Saturday.
The new school, built at a cost of over R45-million, has 18 classrooms, a sports ground, a computer laboratory, a science laboratory and a library. It replaces the dilapidated old Ethridge School, and will cater for 1 000 pupils from Grade R to Grade 9.
Speaking at the official hand-over on Saturday, Zuma said the government would continue to work with the mining sector to promote social development in mining towns and areas that provided labour for the mines.
“Mining continues to be the cornerstone of our economy,” Zuma said, adding that the mining industry had “manifold benefits” for the country, and encouraging mining companies to invest more in communities.
Griffiths said Amplats hope its contribution would help encourage learners to “be curious and continue to learn for a lifetime”.
Zuma further described the noble role of teachers as one where they hold “the future of our country in your hands. The children you mould should be able to lead this country forward to prosperity.”
Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola, welcoming President Zuma’s commitment to quality education, said “The building of this school by Anglo American Platinum, supported by the Department of Mineral Resources is a further example of a nation committed to the long term development of its people. Education is one of the greatest enablers of development and a nation’s competitiveness.
“It is a further example of South Africa’s commitment to improving competitiveness by investing in infrastructure that contributes to the lives of the people of this country. Schools which will nurture young minds of our country’s future leaders are critical in building the intellectual infrastructure of our society.
“This has even greater significance since we have just hosted the 2013 One Young World Summit in Johannesburg which brought together approximately 1500 young people from over 180 countries around the world.”
This project is evidence of how stakeholders, working together, can make a positive difference to the people of this country, while also putting communities on a path to sustainable development, Matola added.
Amplats built Ethridge Junior Secondary as part of its compliance with the social and labour plan of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.
Commissioned in November 2011, the project was fast-tracked in a bid to implement the Presidential Package for mining towns, which was among the commitments made by the government, business and labour during a high-level dialogue on the economy convened President Zuma in October last year.