Education in Focus

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Education in focus 

We understand the power that education has in reducing inequality and creating a brighter future.

We invest significantly in programs focused on delivering social change through education. The programs aim to create a pathway to meaningful employment and improved quality of life by spanning the full spectrum of learning, from early childhood development to secondary education, vocational training and tertiary studies. Below are examples of the programs we support.

Early childhood learning

In Australia, our New South Wales Energy Coal’s partnership with Muswellbrook South Public School supports the Warrae Wanni Pathways to School program. The program provides Aboriginal and disadvantaged preschool-aged children in Muswellbrook with access to a school readiness program. Monitoring has shown that children in the program have made progress on all numeracy and literacy indicators. On average, skills have increased by 52 per cent in enrolled children. Increasing numbers of parents have been engaging in the program, which has also provided the opportunity to link families to essential community services.

Primary education

In 2001, our Pakistan Production Unit developed a program to improve local education and literacy rates, with a focus on girls’ education in local communities. Previously, educational facilities were poor and compounded the cultural barriers that impacted the ability of girls to participate in educational activities. Almost 2,000 students are currently studying in 13 model schools, and 820 students have graduated from the program. The program employs more than 105 local people and the student body has grown from zero to 60 per cent female. One of the girls’ primary schools has also been upgraded to include a secondary school. Effective community engagement has boosted the local literacy rate from 33 per cent to 36 per cent and has driven strong and mutually beneficial outcomes.

Secondary education

During FY2015, we committed almost A$55 million to advance science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education in Australia through two separate projects. The first is a partnership with CSIRO Education to develop and deliver a program that aims to increase the interest and academic performance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in STEM subjects and related professions, including a significant cultural component.

We have also approved a similar program, working with the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, to focus on girls’ achievement in mathematics that will also seek to redress some of the negative stereotypes associated with girls, maths and sciences.

These two programs reflect BHP Billiton’s appreciation of advanced mathematical and physical sciences and the importance of developing STEM skills to address the current barriers and challenges for girls and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in maths and science education. A holistic approach has been developed to further teachers’ technical skills and method of teaching and to provide students with additional support, such as summer schools, scholarships and mentoring.

After school support and mentoring

Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) supports the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation’s Follow the Dream program in Port Hedland, Newman and Perth. The program currently supports 320 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students by providing after school tuition and individual mentoring support and case management in cooperation with schools. It enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary school students to complete Year 12, enter tertiary studies or undertake other post school training or employment. By the end of 2014, 26 per cent of the graduates had gone on to university either directly or through completing a bridging course; 50 per cent of the graduates went on to vocational training, a traineeship or an apprenticeship; and 22 per cent of the graduates went into direct employment. A number of program graduates have also gone on to employment with WAIO.

Pre-employment vocational training

Students at Newman Senior High School, in Western Australia, now have the opportunity to gain nationally recognised qualifications to work in the engineering, automotive and mechanical fields through the recent opening of the Newman Trade Training Centre. In February 2015, in partnership with the Commonwealth Government, WAIO’s contribution of A$555,000 has allowed the construction of a centre, purchase of equipment and employment of a trade teacher to deliver training and education at the High School.

Tertiary education

At our Queensland Coal operations, community consultation showed that skills shortages in non-mining sectors were key areas of concern for the communities in which BHP Billiton Mitsui Coal (BMC) and BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) operate. To create a pipeline of local, non-mining professionals, a partnership was developed with the Central Queensland University. Designed in collaboration with key community stakeholders, the BMA/BMC Non-Mining Scholarship Program specifically targets students who want to study, live and work locally. So far, 57 students have been awarded scholarships under the BMA/BMC Scholarship Program.