GemKids Introduces African Students to Natural Resources, Future Potential
September 2, 2015
Thousands of African students are learning about the abundant natural resources found right in their own backyards through GIA’s GemKids program. The half-day workshops introduce the science of gemology with hands-on techniques that show the students why gemstones are a valuable resource.
“The GemKids Program is a fun and fascinating introduction to gemology where students learn about gems from mine to market in an interactive environment,” said Elizabeth Bokaba, a GIA GemKids program instructor and coordinator. “Having taught several of these courses, it never ceases to amaze me how engaged the students are in this subject.”
GIA’s GemKids Program was introduced in sub-Saharan Africa in 2012, and has taken place in Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Namibia Tanzania and South Africa. Since March 2015, hundreds of students in rural Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania have participated.
“This program enables students to understand more about − and ultimately benefit from − their natural resources,” added Brad Brooks-Rubin, GIA’s director of global development and beneficiation.
Close to 100 students from in and around Bobonong, Botswana, participated in the GemKids program over the course of two days in May 2015.
Although large-scale diamond production has dominated Botswana’s economy since the late 20th century and the country is the world’s largest producer of diamonds by value today, Bobonong, located in Botswana’s Central District, is a source of colored gemstones. These colored gems may provide future economic opportunities for the children who grow up there.
Twenty students from each school – Matshekge Hill Senior Secondary School, Bobirwa Community Junior Secondary School, Bobonong Community Junior Secondary School, Molalatau Community Junior Secondary School in Molalatau and Mosethla Community Junior Secondary School in Gobojango – participated in the GemKids program, which was organized in conjunction with the Botswana Geological Survey.
Local students from Five Rand Primary School in Okahanadja, a small town in Namibia, participated in GIA’s GemKids program in March 2015 in association with local company NamGem. Okahanadja is a rich source of diamonds and gemstones; many of the students’ parents work in mining-related jobs.
The students were able to learn about and identify stones they encounter on a daily basis, often at home.
“I am very honored to be part of this event as we are investing in the youth, especially those who are from underprivileged backgrounds. This opens many doors and windows of opportunity for them,” said the mayor of Okahandja, Her Worship Valerie Aron.
In late June/early July 2015, GIA representatives delivered the GemKids program to more than 200 students – from the Gamams, Academia, Eldorado, Namibia P.S., Sunshine School, M. Mclean and Van Ryn secondary schools – during the Namibia Science, Technology and Innovation Fair.
The fair was organized by National Commission on Research, Science and Technology with direct support from the Namibian government. GemKids was offered twice per day during the fair, for a total of 10 sessions, to a large numbers of students.
GIA participated in the East London Career Fair, organized by local nongovernmental organization DSR Youth Empowerment, in King William’s Town, South Africa in early July 2015.
During the event, the Institute hosted a booth and presented students from across the Eastern Cape with essential information about GIA’s education offerings and career opportunities in the gem and jewelry trade.
GIA also offered its GemKids program to more than 40 students from schools across the province. This program built on GIA’s participation earlier in the year at Career Indaba in Johannesburg.
Secondary students got to experience a gem trade show when GIA offered its GemKids program for the first time at the Arusha Gem Fair in Tanazania in April 2015.
Secondary students from four local schools had the opportunity to learn about the natural resources that are an integral part of their local economy and tour the Gem Fair’s trading booths.
GIA coordinated this program with the Tanzania Gemmological Centre, also based in Arusha.
Kristin Mahan, a manager on GIA's communications team, is an Accredited Jewelry Professional.