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Canyon Coal upgrades Beestepan Agricultural High School facilities

Coal exploration and mining company Canyon Coal, a subsidiary of investment company Menar, officially handed over the R1.45-million renovated facilities at the Beestepan Agricultural High School on 15 May 2019, as part of its social and labour plan (SLP) initiative for Singani Colliery.

The Beestepan Agricultural High School located in Middelburg is approximately 34 km from Canyon’s Singani Colliery. It is a no-fee public school with limited resources and caters for learners from the underprivileged surrounding communities.

Canyon commenced with the project in June 2017. The school provided Canyon with a list of needs. To date Canyon has met many of the crucial needs of the school including:

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  • Extensive refurbishment of the school’s workshop by stabilising and reinforcing the structure;
  • purchasing of new agricultural tools to enable the learners to not only work safely, but also ensure they can make full use of the facility to complete all curriculum requirements, and
  • construction of two broiler units. The broiler units are crucial as they form part of the school’s academic programme and provide a source of income for the school. The chickens are reared by the learners and sold to the surrounding community.

Menar chairman Mpumelelo Mkhabela said specialised agricultural schools were critical to the skills revolution necessary to bring about transformation in commercial agriculture. “There are few such schools in the country and they have to be looked after. We can’t be talking about land reform and not do something about skills reform,” he said.

Extensive upgrades were made to the boys’ and girls’ toilets as the toilets at the school were in a poor condition.

The old brick fence around the school was broken at various points, which compromised the safety of the learners, and was replaced with a fence around the perimeter of the school, along with access gates. The school’s safes were customised with the replacement of two of the safe doors.

Other upgrades included the painting of the school’s roofs and making them waterproof, as previously they leaked when it rained. Classrooms were improved, and renovations were made to the classroom lights to ensure that learners can now work safely with good lighting.

Canyon also donated a plucking machine, gumboots, chicken feed, gas bottles, printers, and other items required to make this project a success. Additionally, the company is assisting with the maintenance of school’s classrooms and workshop

“The inclusion of schools as part of Canyon’s SLP commitments has ensured that we can provide much needed resources that will assist in improving the teaching staff and learners learning environment. A better learning environment will make certain that the needs of the children can be met during teaching time. This is the first step to a better future for the learners which will have an impact on the development of a better South Africa,” says Canyon Coal’s Social Labour Plan Manager Melissa Pillay.

Beestepan Agricultural High School Principal Mrs Khumbu Zulu conveyed her heartfelt thanks to Canyon Coal, stating: “I am honoured to be part of the upgrades project that was so selflessly and diligently carried out by Canyon Coal. It is important for me to point out that we are a no fee school, which means we have very limited resources, and sadly receive minimal support from the many businesses that operate near to our school.”

Zulu remarked that the upgrades and supply of new equipment have already made a meaningful, positive difference to lives and educational endeavours of the school’s learners.

In appreciation of the tremendous efforts of Menar and Canyon Coal, the school handed over a Certificate of Appreciation to Mkhabela.

Zulu concluded her address by stating: “We are grateful beyond words for all that you have done for our school in order to ensure a better and brighter educational environment for our learners. “

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