GemKids training provides education for teachers too

GemKids training provides education for teachers too

In a country known for its vast mineral resources including diamonds and other gems, many people have never seen precious stones, and may not even recognize them if they did.

It is in this context that Dorothée Gizenga, Executive director of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), and Elizabeth Bokaba of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), presented GemKids training to 17 high school teachers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

GemKids, developed by GIA, is a course that covers the basics of geology, minerology and gemology at the level of a high school science class. The accompanying materials are colourful and informative, and the hands-on workshop allows students to examine specimens and identify their characteristics.

Plans are underway to take a group of teachers, and eventually students, to the CEEC (Centre d’évaluation, d’expertise et de certification) to see a parcel of rough diamonds as it transits through that office towards export.

The teachers who were present at the two-day workshop were enthusiastic about the course content, according to DDI project officer Carine Nkita Ndjate. “The participants said they found the training very interesting, and would like to see this course integrated into the regular curriculum of secondary education in the DRC.”

Ms. Gizenga agrees. “This program has great potential if we anchor it in the local systems, at the level of the Ministry of Education, the DIVAS (Division of Social Affairs) and the Ministry of Mines.”

In the meantime, the five top teacher-participants have been tasked with training 20 teachers each. This means that when the school year starts in the fall, 117 teachers will be equipped to deliver the GemKids course to their students.

According to Ms. Gizenga, educating young people about the gems that are being mined in their country, often by their own parents, will open up new possibilities of livelihood. “Children will realize that there are other options to digging diamonds,” she says. “They will see the opportunities for becoming geologists, gemologists and valuators. This is one more way to offer them a better future.”