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Sudbury professor links Tanzanian school with AngloGold

Cambrian College in Sudbury reaches many corners of the world with its expertise.
Cambrian professor Robert Jones arranged for $2,200 worth of electrical and hand tools to be donated to the Vocational Educational Training Authority (VETA), a government supported school in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Cambrian College in Sudbury reaches many corners of the world with its expertise.

Cambrian’s international office has developed partnerships with institutions and organizations around the globe in counties such as China, Bangladesh, Libya, Peru and Tanzania. While the college welcomes students and educators to study in Sudbury, it also looks for opportunities for Canadian educators to share their knowledge overseas.

One project that has been underway for several years shares the college’s expertise in heavy equipment and industrial electricity training with the Vocational Educational Training Authority (VETA), a government supported school in Mwanza, Tanzania. Located on the shores of Lake Victoria, Mwanza is the second largest city in Tanzania with a population of approximately 500,000.

The school offers training programs in a variety of disciplines, including carpentry, sewing, secretarial skills and electricity.

In May 2011, two faculty members from VETA, Charles Mpambwe and Edwin Temu, who teach heavy-duty mechanics and industrial equipment, spent time at the Sudbury campus. While in Canada, they were able to consult with Cambrian College professor Robert Jones and develop a new curriculum that would help their students to attain the skills required by large mining companies like AngloGold.

Tanzania has more than 50 mining companies, as well as resources in phosphate, iron ore, diamonds, gold and nickel. AngloGold’s Geita open pit gold mine is 80 kilometers from Mwanza and the biggest mine of the group’s eight open pit operations in Africa.

Tanzanians can benefit from working one-on-one with colleagues in Canada, said Jones. “They can provide the basics for their students, but they are not able to progress much further because they can’t afford resources like textbooks. Their textbooks are 50 and 60 years old.”

Jones had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Mwanza in July 2011 and saw firsthand the conditions in which instructors are working.

“The power is out 10-12 hours a day. Students would be just sitting there waiting for the lights to come back on. Trying to teach electrical trades with no power was impossible,” said Jones.

On their visit to Sudbury, Mpambwe and Temu were overwhelmed by the abundance of resources available.

When Jones was at the school in Mwanza, he was able to follow up on how his colleagues implemented his recommendations and to continue tweaking the curriculum. Jones brought some hand tools with him on this trip and helped the school create a wish list that includes items like linesman pliers, wire strippers, side cutters and simple screwdrivers and knives.

A large portion Jones’s work in Mwanza was to help develop a strategy for building partnerships with industry. The team delivered a successful presentation to managers at AngloGold, who immediately showed support and agreed to help the school by providing some of the equipment on their wish list, as well as student placements and other ways to support the school. As of January, AngloGold had10 VETA graduates on placements.

MANTRAC, the heavy equipment supplier, is also working in Tanzania and Jones was able to help the school begin negotiations to apply for a bursary and request donations of equipment.

“Whatever they can get hold of and keep, they make sure it lasts because everything is so scarce and difficult to replace,” said Jones. “The computers they have are the ones we got rid of 20 years ago, but that is cutting edge technology for them.”

Jones described his first time in Africa as an eye-opening experience. “It is a great way to see how other people live in the world because you realize how much more we have here,” he confided. “We were watching some boys play ball and then recognized that it wasn’t a ball but a filled bag.”

Jones returned to Sudbury determined to continue helping the school, not only with its equipment needs, but with soccer balls, too.

This article appeared in the March 2012 issue of Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal