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UN International Day of Education: Supporting education through the pandemic and beyond

Author: Glencore | Date: 22/01/2021

This Sunday (24 January) is International Day of Education, the day designated by the UN to celebrate the role that education plays in development. 

The need for this focus is starkly illustrated by the statistics. According to UNESCO, 258 million children and young people do not attend school. Over 617 million children and adolescents cannot read or do basic maths, and fewer than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school.

Events of the past year have shone the spotlight even more brightly on the importance of education, with the UN estimating that 1.6 billion students in over 190 countries have suffered disruption caused by the pandemic. Therefore, the theme for this year’s UN International Day of Education is ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation.’ 

Glencore is playing its part in this recovery, with projects underway all around the world to help students, educators and places of learning in the communities where we operate.
Many of these projects have been in place for years before the disruption caused by Covid-19, but the pandemic has given them a new impetus.

Virtual education for our communities

In Canada, our nickel business has partnered for over ten years with Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF), an organisation that provides young people and educators with the knowledge, skills, and practices to establish more sustainable communities. With funding from Glencore, it delivers educational initiatives through operations in Canada, New Caledonia and Norway

Glencore’s funding for LSF in 2020 was intended to support face-to-face professional development workshops, youth engagement programmes and stakeholder engagement. However, due to the increased demand for online learning, the opportunity was taken to adapt and transform resources on LSF’s Resources4Rethinking.ca database. Available in both English and French, parents and teachers around the world can view and download programmes to help children’s daily learning and development.

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We are providing similar support for online learning in the communities close to our Antapaccay copper mine in Espinar, Peru. The Central de Recursos Educativos Especializados de Espinar (CREE) is a non-profit organisation supported by Glencore, which aims to supplement the basic state education offered in the region to help vulnerable children and young people. When the impact of the pandemic became clear, CREE immediately made its educational resources freely available online, enabling teachers to acquire tools to complement their teaching and giving parents the knowledge to help their children. 

Elsewhere in South America, as part of an education programme in which it has invested $43,000, our El Pachón project in Argentina has donated over 270 tablets to be used by the region’s children. For 11 years, the mine has promoted and financed the “For a Pollution-Free Sky” programme, delivered in collaboration with the Calingasta observatories and El Leoncito National Park. During a popular annual educational visit, primary school students from throughout the region visit the CESCO observatories, the El Leoncito Astronomical Complex and the National Park, and learn about the importance of preserving natural resources. By donating the tablets, El Pachón is helping to make the tour available virtually, since physical tours are currently not possible.

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In South Africa, our Coal business has supported the launch of a virtual platform allowing learners to access valuable educational material. Our partner, Ligbron, has launched an app, offering live streaming lessons five days a week, with all lessons being uploaded to YouTube. Lessons have even been made available on certain TV channels to accommodate learners without devices or data. Glencore has supported the initiative by increasing our free Wifi hotspots to improve coverage, as well as increasing the data limit from 500MB to 1GB per user, per day.

An ‘unprecedented corporate commitment’

But our support of education hasn’t just been in digital form. School students in north-west Queensland, Australia continued to receive their Glencore-funded Books in Homes packs throughout last year, to continue building the foundations of a literature-rich environment in their homes and schools. Through this programme, every student in participating schools receives nine books a year to take home to start building their own libraries. Glencore started funding Books in Homes with the aim of encouraging development in reading and literacy and has committed to supporting this program until 2023. Since 2007, we have committed $1.4 million to deliver 160,000 books to children who otherwise might not have had access to them.

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Peter Large, the CEO of Books in Homes, says this was an extraordinary feat and an unprecedented corporate commitment to children living in remote and rural communities. “Glencore’s long-term commitment to support the children in the remote and rural areas around their operations is second to none.”

You can read more about the events planned for International Day of Education here.