Science education the magical way
B2Gold mining has introduced a Colorado State University-initiated programme known as ‘Little Shop of Physics’ through its education centre which teaches children and teachers about maths, science and chemistry in a fun interactive way.
Implemented at the beginning of 2016, it has been such a success that the Ministry of Education has asked the company to roll out the programme across the country.
“We worked with 75 teachers and160 students who traveled to the B2Gold Educational Center outside their Otjikoto mine site,” said the Director of Little Shop of Physics director, Brian Jones.
A miniature version of the Little Shop road programme with 25 of its classic experiments will be based at the Education Center and are mobile for visits to other schools.
B2Gold Namibia MD Mark Dawe, a long-term resident of Namibia believes the country to be one of the top African destinations to live and do business in, especially in the mining industry which he says is not heavily impacted by bureaucracy to bring these sorts of initiatives to the surrounding community.
The mining consortium’s unique contribution to the environment is also explained as part of the school visits. Particularly how they balance the impact of mining on the ecology of the area, an example that is being exported to South Africa and other African countries.
Employing a majority stake of 98% local staff complement is only the start of B2Gold’s ‘give back’ contribution to Namibia.
“Our corporate social investment (CSI) programmes are the best in-country and very much a focal area and core philosophy for the company. We focus on community livelihood, health, education and environment and conservation,” Dawe said.
In support of these initiatives, B2Gold Namibia has established the Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE), stemming from the identification and need to support local non-government organisations (NGO) through the integration of industry professionals with government.
“Similar initiatives in the past have failed due to a lack of core, sustainable funding but to ensure this doesn’t happen, B2Gold has provided start-up capital for the Chamber; it is their hope that this entity will become self sufficient in the near future,” he said.
Renowned environmentalist, Dr Chris Brown, oversees many of B2Golds environmental impact assessments as well as coordination with almost every environmental/conservation NGO in the country, including 40 NGO members and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
The company has also invested in establishing and protecting an 18 000 ha nature reserve which incorporates an environmental education centre which thousands of children visit to learn about indigenous flora and fauna. Camps on site also provide survival training and are free of charge for children.
According to Dawe the facilities also provide corporate team building from which all money earned is reinvested into the centre.
Sherri Lytle, a 2000 Colorado State University graduate with a degree in economics, is corporate social responsibility manager at B2Gold Namibia. She arranged to have Little Shop visit the newly built B2GoldEducation Center, located near its mine in Otjikoto. The center includes an outdoor classroom, overnight accommodations, physics labs and a game reserve.