Gold Fields Ghana Foundation (GFGF) has presented scholarships worth USD199,245 to 163 brilliant but needy tertiary students.
The beneficiaries drawn from the 19 host communities of the Tarkwa and Damang Mines comprised; 84 males and 79 females, including two Persons with disabilities who would be sponsored to study at the Cape Coast School for the deaf.
The rest are with the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa, University of Cape Coast, (UCC), Takoradi Technical University (TTU), University of Ghana (UG), Legon and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KUNST).
The awards were for the 2022/2023 academic year and each beneficiary would receive GHS 7,000 annually for their accommodation and other approved fees.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Robert Siaw, Regional Manager of Community Relations, at Gold Fields Ghana, said the young men and women were selected with the assistance of their community leaders and the Ghana Education Service (GES) from their host communities through the Scholarship Committee.
To date, the scholarship programme has benefited 2,611 youth in various disciplines, out of these 120 graduated from several institutions in 2023, and they can now boost mining employees, medical practitioners, lecturers, civil servants, and teachers among others.
Sharing some success stories on the programme, Mr Siaw said this year, a beneficiary from Amanda, a community in the Damang Mine area was adjudged the best female graduating
student in Mineral Resources Engineering at the UMaT with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 85.75.
He stated that another beneficiary, Masha Ahoba Buah from the first batch of 2002 Senior High School scholarship awards, graduated with a PhD in Mathematics from the same University.
The GFGF among other things also invested in health infrastructure and facilities, educational infrastructure, agriculture and agric-businesses, water and sanitation infrastructure, promotion of clean communities, sports infrastructure, road rehabilitation and construction.
He noted that Gold Fields Ghana having taken note of the new world of work, and the paucity of employment opportunities in the country, have prioritized the formal and informal skill training of the youth in their host communities.
“The company since the last 25 to 30 years, in collaboration with our community leaders has invested over US$36m in initiatives such as, graduate trainee, host community apprenticeship, mine apprenticeship training, heavy-duty equipment training and precision welding training programmes, benefiting over five hundred host community youths,” Mr Siaw said.
According to the Regional Manager, the object of the initiative was to give hands-on experience to the youth to make them easily employable or to set themselves up in some business.
“The young generation are our future, and it is the duty of all of us, including the youth themselves, to do whatever we can to encourage them to be the best. The contribution of higher education and skilful youth to economic development need not be over-emphasized”.
Mr Siaw revealed that no development agenda would be successful without quality education and a skilful population, adding, that was why Gold Fields, had taken to the path of human development in the area in which they operated.
He said they were proud to support the development of skilled manpower and believed that, for the huge unemployment challenge facing Ghana to be abated, they must support initiatives that make education more relevant.
Mr Abdel-Razak Yakubu, Executive Secretary, GFGF, emphasized that the scholarship programme was biased by Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
He said one of the objectives was to support students in STEM programmes as it was part of Gold Fields’ drive to improve its host community employment numbers.
“The preference for STEM explains why a candidate who qualifies on the score of their residential status and the academic record may not be selected for an award,” Mr Yakubu said.
He charged the beneficiaries to conduct themselves well while on campus and exhibit the values of Gold Fields which included respect.
Professor Anthony Simons, the Pro Vice Chancellor of UMaT, who chaired the function advised them to focus on their books as the scholarship would transform their lives and their families, communities and the country as well.
The Gyasehene of Bosomtwe Divisional Area, Nana Kwasi Asaah, asked the beneficiaries to study hard to motivate the foundation to award more students with scholarships.
A beneficiary, Ms Judith Obeng Reese, stressed that the scholarship would ease the financial burden on their parents, expressed gratitude to the GFGF and promised to justify the huge investment made in them.