Gold Fields Ghana Limited, operators of the Tarkwa gold mine in the Western Region, last Thursday presented scholarship and bursary awards to 150 needy students who excelled in the 2016 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
The awards are for the 2016/2017 academic year and run into several thousands of dollars.
The awardees comprise 87 males and 63 females who were selected from the nine host communities in the company's operational areas.
The students were selected following an interview procedure by a three-member committee, out of a total number of 300 students scheduled for the selection exercise.
The performance of the students in their schools will be closely monitored and the company will not hesitate to withdraw any of them who does not live up to expectation.
The company has budgeted $384,842 for education this year, including scholarship and bursary offers for continuing students.
The other areas the company is providing support are accommodation to house the municipal directorate of education, acquisition of motorbikes to assist the directorate in its supervision and monitoring work, furniture for schools, as well as sponsorship of Teachers’ Day awards.
Since the establishment of the scholarship and bursary scheme in 2005, the company has supported 1,245 students through second cycle and tertiary schools, out of which 475 are beneficiaries of the scholarship and 770 holders of bursaries.
Some students who have benefited from the generosity of the company are now professionals such as doctors, engineers, lawyers and teachers.
The General Manager of Gold Fields, Tarkwa Mine, Mr Stephen Osei-Bempah, in his address at the presentation ceremony at Tarkwa, said education was the number one priority of the company, since it contributed to sustaining development in the communities in the mine’s operational area.
He stressed that education was fundamental to the development and growth of any community or nation.
Mr Osei-Bempah noted that "knowledge and skills acquired through education by the youth will drive their employability, productivity, health and well-being now and in the decades to come.”
“When our host communities thrive, the company thrives as well because we can employ people with the requisite skills and talents from the local communities," he added.
He urged parents and guardians whose children were still in school to ensure that they took their studies seriously if they were to benefit from the scholarship and bursary facilities.
The Gyaasehene of the Apinto Divisional Council, Dr Nana Adarkwa Bediako II, chaired the function. He expressed concern about the over-reliance of communities in the area on mining companies, saying it was unfair for them to do so.
He wondered what the district assemblies in those communities used their share of the common fund and mineral royalties for.
According to him, the mining companies were supposed to be partners in development and not to take up all the responsibility simply because they were mining gold.