Together, we can do more. This has been the government’s main message since 2009 and the community of Mbizana experienced this first hand as government with financial support from Anglo American reconstructed Ethridge Junior Secondary School.
The school which was built at the end of the 19th century by Anglican Church missionaries was in dire need of the R40 million reconstruction. The project was implemented as part of Anglo American Platinum’s compliance with the social and labour plan of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, and brings the total amount which the company has spent on education to communities since 2010 to R75 million, heeding the call of the Department of Mineral Resources for corporates to work together with their host communities to ensure a sustainable developmental approach to all community development initiatives. Bizana is one of the areas in the province that sends labour to Anglo American Platinum and other mining companies across South Africa.
During the official handover, President Jacob Zuma – accompanied by Premier Noxolo Kiviet, Minister of Mineral Resources, Susan Shabangu was taken on a tour of the new school. Speaking at the event, President Zuma said the school was a sound investment in the youth of Bizana and an important step towards seeing leaners being taught in conducive environments, and applauded Anglo American Platinum for its role in the construction of the school.
“Teachers and leaners must ensure that this investment in education yields returns through outstanding academic results in all grades and also through iron discipline in the school grounds and beyond,” he said. “The children should be moulded by the teachers to lead this country towards prosperity.”
Chief Executive Officer of Anglo American Platinum, Chris Griffith expressed his pleasure at this celebration of a milestone for the Bizana community, which represents a step towards fulfilling some the Millennium Development Goals – achieving universal primary education and ensuring environmental sustainability. He reiterated his company commitment to the broader South African community, and not only the communities surrounding its operations.
In the construction of Ethridge, the company has provided leaners from the Bizana community with state-of-the art facilities to ensure the best education opportunities for them. The Department of Education, Mbizana Local Municipality and Anglo American Platinum made a decision to relocate the school, which resulted in a complete reconstruction. This move was motivated by the fact that the school’s sport grounds used to be separated from the main buildings by the Biza-Port Edward road, which meant that leaners were exposed to dangers of traffic every day.
The company provided funds for this, while the municipality constructed an access road to the school. Besides having the capacity to accommodate 800 leaners with 18 classrooms, a multipurpose hall and an ablution block, the school now has facilities previously not available. These include computer and science laboratories, a library, a National School Nutrition Programme block, a strongroom and security fencing.
The infrastructure has a number of unique features, namely:
- A Lilliput sewerage treatment plant. The grey water discharged is used for irrigation and flushing of toilets;
- A borehole with a submerged pump which provides the whole school with drinking water
- A chlorination plant which cleans water from the borehole to ensure that it is drinkable; and
- A generator for backup power.
During the construction of the school, a local previously disadvantaged contractor was appointed and 136 residents from Bizana received temporary employment, meeting the local job creation, skills transfer and supplier development goals.