Gold Fields Ghana Foundation has introduced the bulk payment of Academic Facility User Fees (AFUF) for 325 scholarship beneficiaries in four tertiary institutions from host communities.
According to the Foundation, the move has helped to eliminate the delays that were sometimes associated with receiving bills directly from students, which in turn affected their registration each academic year.
The beneficiaries, who were selected from the Tarkwa and Damang Mines host communities, are pursuing their studies at the University of Ghana (UG), University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), University of Cape Coast (UCC) and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
Speaking at the presentation of cheques to the various institutions at Tarkwa, the Vice President-Operations Gold Fields West Africa, Mr Michiel Van der Merwe, said, “I am sure we have all been following the debate currently ongoing about the increase in fees at public universities. The Foundation is happy to learn that the Minister for Education, whose able Deputy is with us today, has started engaging stakeholders on the issue.”
He said one of the benefits of mining was that through programmes such as this, hundreds of students in the mining communities did not need to worry about their fees or any increase thereof.
Mr Merwe announced that the Foundation was paying a total sum of GH₵ 779,583.50 on behalf of the beneficiaries in the four institutions and this covered tuition for the 2022/2023 academic year.
The Foundation, since its inception, has invested over US$3.5million in fees, covering tuition, hostel accommodation, examination and other approved charges, he said.
He said the stellar academic performance of the beneficiaries coupled with their discipline and generally positive attitudes had encouraged Gold Fields to continue doing more for them.
“Mr Louis Ziemah from Samahu graduated from UMaT last year with first class honours in Minerals Engineering, while Ms Beatrice Brown from Amoanda who just completed her National Service in Damang also graduated with first class honours in Electrical Engineering from the same institution,” Mr Merwe stated.
He continued, “these are the stories we love to tell as a Company – that is, creating enduring value beyond mining. Gold Fields, through its Foundation is excited to be contributing to Ghana’s drive towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 4, 5 and 10.”
He recalled that early last year, management of the Foundation paid a visit to all the beneficiaries in their respective institutions and explained that one of the outcomes of the schools’ visitation programme was that each year, during the long vacation, students would be invited to take part in seminars and training workshops aimed at introducing them to emerging trends in the business world.
Mr Merwe expressed appreciation to the management teams of the various institutions for the warm reception they gave to them during the visits and the help they offered their students.
The Deputy Minister of Education, Mr John Ntim Fordjour, said although the government had removed some major barries to education by introducting the free Senior High School programme, which had benefited over two million students and the no guarantor requirements of the student loan trust fund to expand tertiary assistance, more needed to be done.
He, therefore, praised Gold Fields for investing heavily into transforming not only the fortunes of residents in their operational area but across the country, adding, “this is worthy of emulation and l wish other corporate institutions would toe that line”
Mr Fordjour pointed out that “we are going to track your performance closely to ensure it paved way for your younger brothers and sisters aspiring to access this support. the Government cannot do it alone hence we need to hold hands together to ensure we transform education in the country”.
The Chief Executive Officer for Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality, Mr Benjamin Kessie and the Member of Parliament for Prestea Huni-Valley Constituency, Mr Robert Wisdom Cudjoe, appealed to the students to study hard to allow Gold Fields to award more students with scholarships.
For their part, Nana Dr. Adarkwa Bediako III, Gyasehene of Apinto Divisional Area and Nana Kwabena Amponsah IV, Divisional Chief of Bosomtwe, thanked Gold Fields for initiating the scholarship scheme and advised the beneficiaries that, the programme would be continued only if they made judicious use of the huge financial resources that Gold Fields was investing in their education.
A beneficiary, Miss Amanda Toku, on behalf of her colleagues, promised to justify the assistance they have received by strictly focusing on their studies.
Gold Fields in 2002 started a scholarship scheme, which in 2004, was formalized under the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation to assist brilliant but needy students from its host communities to pursue full time studies at various levels of education.
The scholarship scheme has so far supported 2,448 youth from both Tarkwa and Damang host communities and currently 531 students are beneficiaries from the programme in tertiary institutions across Ghana.