Exxaro, one of South Africa's largest black-empowered and diversified resource companies, today handed over additional classrooms at Arnot Colliery Primary School in Sikhululiwe Village – an informal mining settlement in the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality, Mpumalanga.
What began as a relocation project has since turned into an education initiative that has positively impacted young learners in the village and its surrounding communities. Initially, the Department of Education set out to build a primary school in the village to accommodate the new residents and their children. Without an existing school in the vicinity, children from surrounding farms had to travel for many kilometres to learn. Exxaro committed to building two additional three-classroom blocks (six classrooms in total) to cater for more students in the rapidly growing community.
Exxaro partnered with Arnot OpCo Mine (the new mine owners of Exxaro’s Arnot Mine) to commence the construction of these classrooms in February 2020. Two local SMME contractors were appointed to develop a three-classroom block each. Bethrama Solutions and SNE and Katli Engineering worked together proactively and tirelessly, despite COVID-19-related challenges, to complete construction within the set timeframe.
“It was inspiring to see two small local contractors closely collaborating throughout the project, supporting each other and sharing resources. It was a pleasure to work with them, and they should be incredibly proud of the great work they did to better their communities,” commented Exxaro Resources’ Dr Nombasa Tsengwa, CEO-designate and MD for Minerals.
The fact that both SMMEs employed a combined total of 48 young men and 16 women and sourced the bulk of their supplies, materials and workers within the local municipality is remarkable too.
“As a municipality, we are delighted and appreciative of the R5.6 million investment made by Exxaro Resources in partnership with Arnot OpCo that enabled the construction of the two classroom blocks at Arnot Colliery Primary School,” said Executive Mayor, Cllr Diphala Motsepe.
“This project created 64 job opportunities for people living in our communities. This truly embodies government’s objective to fight against the triple threat of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Excellent partnerships such as these allow us to deliver projects that improve the lives of our people,” he added.
MEC for Education, Cllr Bonakele Majuba, also praised the partnership. “We are grateful to see this generosity from Exxaro and Arnot OpCo. These classes will assist in creating a teaching and learning environment that is productive. We will do everything in our power to safeguard this infrastructure and encourage other businesses and institutions to follow the visionary leadership displayed by Exxaro and Arnot OpCo in bettering our community," he emphasised.
Through the completion of the R5.6-million project, Exxaro is providing 180 local children with access to education – a basic human right the company believes every child should have.
“Our purpose of powering better lives starts with education. The value of education, especially at a young age, cannot be overstated. It builds a strong foundation in which our communities and societies can thrive and sets the tone for how the future leaders of our country will behave. Today’s event is Exxaro’s way of planting seeds of hope for future generations, giving each child the eternal gift of knowledge and learning,” explained Dr Nombasa.
Ms Bontle Aphane, CEO at Arnot OpCo, agreed, “We are proud to be part of this impactful initiative, working alongside our industry partner to make a significant difference in the lives of young people in our mining communities. Education is where real change starts.”