South African Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, has unveiled the newly built SJ Skenjana Secondary School in Idutywa, Eastern Cape.
The construction of the 23-classroom school with capacity to accommodate 1612 leaners, was funded by Sibanye Stillwaters as part of its Social and Labour Plan (SLP) and created 85 jobs for local communities.
The company’s SLP seeks to meaningfully contribute to the socio-economic development of communities around its operations.
In terms of the provisions of the Minerals and Petroleum Development Act (MPRDA) of 2002, mining rights holders are required to contribute towards the socio-economic development of communities in which they operate and labour-sending areas.
Speaking at the school unveiling ceremony on Friday, Minister Mantashe urged mining companies to pull their resources together to build impactful projects to achieve social cohesion.
“Working together, we will accelerate the construction of more facilities such as schools, hospitals, and paved roads, for the benefit of all South Africans,” he said.
The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said that although Sibanye Stillwater has no mining operation in the Eastern Cape, the province is a major labour-sending area and majority of the company’s workers are sourced from the province.
“We are starting a new era of hope wherein the people of this area can meaningfully benefit from the natural resources that our country is endowed with. Even though this is not a mining area, the benefits accrue to you because of the blood, sweat and skills of those mineworkers at the Beatrix, Driefontein and Kloof operations who come from this area,” Mantashe said.
SJ Skenjane Secondary School is one of the best performing schools in the Amathole District, despite its shortcomings such as a lack of amenities and dilapidated classrooms that were once part of a church hostel.
With new and better infrastructure comprising of an administration block, a hall, media library, computer lab, and a science laboratory built in line with the Norms and Standards of the Department of Basic Education, the department said that the school is expected to perform better than the previous academic years.
The school which is worth R65 million, was received by the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Dr. Reginah Mhaule on behalf of the basic education sector.
Minister Mantashe and Deputy Minister Mhaule both expressed confidence that the school will continue to perform exceptionally given the quality of the infrastructure aimed at advancing learning and teaching.