Local Mining School Remain Unfulfilled in Hwange
By Calvin Manika
Growing up in the dusty suburb of Makwika village in Hwange made Kevin Banda to aspire for a job in mining. His dream seemed to be easily attainable as he saw more than 20 mining companies in the coal mining town.
“I have seen many locals doing hard labour after completing Odinary Level, some failed but got menial jobs in mining. So, I wanted a skilled and technical job to earn high and be respected while living my dream,” Banda says.
After finishing Advanced Level, Kevin wanted to study mine geology but could not find a local college despite Hwange being solely run on mining activities. Discouraged and bitter, Kevin had to go to Bulawayo after his uncle sent him money to pursue his childhood dream. A feat most of the aspiring children fail to achieve in Hwange as they cannot afford colleges far away from their area.
“A local college can be better in terms of accommodating local children who qualify. Fees and other tuitions can be negotiated because, the biggest aim will be to accommodate locals who qualify. Otherwise, all the top jobs in our mines will remain in the hands of outsiders,” Banda adds.
In the last quarter of 2019, Don Bosco Technical College went into an overdrive mode to expand its educational scope by creating learning opportunities to people within Hwange District and the nation at large.
Hwange has remained an industrial hub in the country; however, due to lack of skills by the locals, the technical and managerial jobs have been occupied by people from outside. To mitigate the skills gap, the college set a technical committee to spearhead the establishment a mining school.
Don Bosco technical team visited various stakeholders including corporates like Zambezi Gas Mining Company, JRG Contractors, Premier Stones Crushers, Chilota Coal Mining, W and K Coal Mining, Hwange Colliery Company Limited, South Mining Private Limited, Hwange Coal Gasification Company and Zimbabwe Power Company.
The team, led by Joe Zulu came up with a ‘Skills Training Report’ which noted the need for technical and non-technical courses by the companies in mining, engineering and management training. The mining school was set to open in the first quarter of 2020. According to the college’s 3-year strategic plan 2020 – 2022, the mining school was supposed to offer short courses at Diploma level.
Speaking at a technical committee meeting at the college’s Salesian Community House, Don Bosco Technical College Director Bruno Zamberlan said that they were working on this project with the methodology of involvement and participation, taking into consideration the aspirations of the mines in Hwange. “Coordination is needed to plan the curriculum,” said Bruno.
The proposed mining school courses included, mine geology, metallurgical courses, electrical engineering, diesel plant fitting, drilling and blasting, project management, SHE and quality control, apprenticeship training and other relevant courses.
Speaking at one of the meetings Bruno said the college is going to build a 300 student cottage. He expressed his gladness with the college bringing a skills related study in mining.
“We are going to partner the Zimbabwe School of Mines on skills transfer and lectures. Our objective is for the community to gain education and skills. Don Bosco cannot be a profit based organisation, the money is to sustain studies, and we are not business oriented. Youths who cannot afford to go outside Hwange or Matabeleland North Province will use this opportunity,” said Bruno.
Two years down the lane, the school of mines has not yet been established in Hwange. Some optimistic residents say if the private college is no longer able to build and run the mining college, it is the duty of the government to take over. One of the local mine workers, Prime Ncube says the government must treat the establishment of school of mines in Hwange as an important national issue.
“Don Bosco offers quality education in terms of the running courses. When the school of mines idea came up, we were confident that our children were going to get quality mining education,” Ncube says.
Her standpoint is that the school will mitigate the skills gap in the mining sector.
Currently, the Zimbabwe School of Mines in Bulawayo and University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Engineering Mining and Metallurgy are the renowned schools offering various mining courses in Zimbabwe.