Oil palm giant Golden Veroleum Liberia has dedicated three newly constructed public schools in Grand Kru County and rehabilitated others as part of its ongoing commitments to support the development of local communities, a press release said.
The schools include a three classroom kindergarten, elementary schools in Ylatwen and Big Town, and a six classroom elementary school in Piddy/Nyanbo. GVL rehabilitated six classroom schools in Beloken in Trembo District, and Wutuken in Wedabo District.
Demonstrating the importance GVL places on supporting education in its partner communities, a large GVL delegation led by Vice President for Sustainability, Andrew Kluth, and GVL’s Regional Controller for Grand Kru, Krishnan Naliah, attended the dedication of the Piddy/Nyanbo school.
Speaking at the dedication, Ofori Lartey, GVL’s General Manager for Sustainability in Grand Kru, said these projects fulfilled key commitments set out in the Memoranda of Understanding incorporating Social Agreements agreed between the communities and GVL. These MOUs provide that GVL may develop community land for oil palm and, in return, GVL will employ people, provide benefits and deliver various community support projects, such as these schools.
“These projects are part of our social commitments to communities under these MOUs. We see these as a key part of our relationship with our partner communities. We will continue to work with them to improve social and economic opportunities,” Lartey said.
Presenting the keys to the school to the communities at the Piddy/Nyanbo school dedication ceremony, Jean Hannah-Thompson, GVL Senior Manager for Administration, Careers and Education Programs, urged the school’s administration and the communities to take proper care of the schools. She said that GVL could play its part by building and rehabilitating the schools, but it was up to the community to encourage their children to attend and look after the school so as to maximize the value it could give to educating future generations.
“We are partners in giving your children this invaluable opportunity. We urge you to ensure your children make use of the opportunities we are providing. Without education, the children cannot be future leaders. GVL is committed to working with the government through the Ministry of Education and partners to improve the education system,” Hannah-Thompson said.
Receiving the keys on behalf of the communities, all the Community Representative Committee (CRC) Chairmen of Ylatwen, Beloken, Big Town, Piddy/Nyanbo and Wutuken lauded Golden Veroleum Liberia for the project, acknowledging that the schools brought new hope for the communities’ children and youth.
The CRC Chairmen and principals of the schools disclosed that the company also donated writing desks to replace the planks and benches they would have otherwise brought from their homes.
“We are delighted to have these facilities in our communities. GVL is a true development partner and the company continues to demonstrate its commitment to supporting improvements in our communities. We could not have taken on these projects or provided the writing desks easily ourselves. Now our children will have a good place to learn,” they proudly said.
In addition to the five dedicated schools, Golden Veroleum Liberia has begun the construction of a new town hall for Beloken community and a six classroom school for Gbanken in Wedabo District. GVL has also begun the construction of pit latrines in many of its host communities to help improve sanitation in the county.
The press release states that GVL has similarly constructed several community schools in Sinoe. It supports these through funding teachers and providing educational supplies, including desks and books. Recently, GVL in partnership with Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson, an American educator, distributed 101 boxes of books in Sinoe, with more than 13 communities benefiting. The books were given to communities in Butaw, Tarjuowon, Juarzon, Nitrain, Tartweh, Numopoh and Du-Wolee.
GVL operates the largest primary school in the Liberian southeast with approximately 600 students from the families of employees and other families in the surrounding communities. Students in the school are, in addition to the usual curriculum in rural Liberia, introduced to computing through a dedicated computer lab.
GVL is the largest provider of agricultural scholarships in Liberia, with approximately US$600,000 provided for eligible students to date, according to the press release.