Playing a part in socio-economic development is a pillar of our community engagement policy. Accordingly, Total has identified several commitments as priorities for social welfare, with education ranking at the top of the list. Our international subsidiaries therefore support numerous programs relating to education. One example is Total E&P Congo, which is deploying initiatives at several different levels of the Congolese education system – a concrete means of diversifying the ways in which it creates value for the host country.
Giving Young People Access to Independence, Training & Jobs: A Major Cause for Total
Total operates in 130 countries around the world. In each one, we are committed to consolidating our local roots by providing training to assist young people in gaining access to employment as their stepping stone to finding their place in society. We view this as one of our priority social welfare commitments and an extension to our business operations themselves, because it is our way of securing the future of the regions in which we operate. From secondary school to higher education and vocational training, our educational initiatives are designed as part of a long-haul effort to build skills, establish academic excellence programs and create vocational pathways for the benefit of our future employees and, more broadly, society as a whole.
Total E&P Congo: a Longstanding Commitment to Education
Our local subsidiary has been established the Republic of the Congo since 1968 and has a longstanding commitment to education, a major thrust of our community engagement strategy. The fact is that the learning environment is in dire straits in the Republic of the Congo due to recurring infrastructure problems. So if there is one area in which we, as a responsible oil and gas operator, can help, education is definitely it.
High-school classes for gifted students
TEP Congo has always made a point of identifying promising young talents and helping them to realize their potential by putting them in a conducive learning environment. In addition, we have consistently sought to play an active role in the development of research and teaching.
We rolled out our first major “official” training program for Congolese citizens in 2009. It was designed in response to Total’s recruitment needs and to the longer-term need to enlarge the faculty of Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville.
Our idea was to work hand in hand with the local Board of primary and secondary education in Pointe-Noire and the French Charlemagne High School to create “gifted and talented” classes that would give the most deserving students the best possible material conditions for taking the country’s local version of the scientific baccalauréat exam. In addition, students in these classes have the opportunity to take the French baccalauréat exam, which maximizes their chances of being admitted to the most prestigious schools of higher education both in the Congo and abroad.
The “gifted and talented” classes were set up as part of the Victor Augagneur High School in Pointe-Noire. We refurbished parts of the school, including building laboratories. Students may apply to take a competitive exam during their final year of middle school (around age 15) to gain admission to the “gifted and talented” classes, which then offer a complete curriculum covering the three years of high school. Under the direction of the high school principal, faculty members who teach the gifted and talented classes receive special training at the Lycée Français to become familiar with its best practices. Several technical committees meet during the year in the presence of our partners to provide regular follow-up.
Nine years after its inception, the program is a national success: more than 700 students from all parts of the Republic of Congo apply to sit the competitive exam, hoping to secure one of the 60 available spots. Once they graduate from high school excellence program, the top three students are granted scholarships to pursue their education in prestigious schools within their home country or abroad. Students who enter engineering schools often then come to Total to do internships.
Extending support to middle-school level, university students and young workers
As a supplement to this program, over the past several years we have been adding a number of new initiatives targeting various levels of the Congolese education system.
As part of our community engagement efforts in Djeno, where TEP Congo operates an oil terminal, we provide infrastructure and financial support for community adult literacy and adult school re-enrollment programs.
We are also active supporters of higher education, particularly the Catholic University of Central Africa (UCAC) and Marien Ngouabi University. The latter specializes in HSE engineering and oil and gas engineering fields. We helped to build a new campus that opened to more than 300 students in February 2018. Concurrently, we fund scholarships for some sixty students who are pursuing their educations in the Congo and abroad in Geology, Geophysics, Science and Technology, Process Engineering, Environmental Studies and other disciplines.
The final thrust of our support is vocational training, because the local industry has a deficit of skilled welding, maintenance and electrical workers. This situation prompted us to undertake a project in partnership with Schneider Electric and the UCAC with the initial aim of training electricians. Twelve trainees recently completed their classroom learning at the Don Bosco training center, followed by on-the-job training in a work-study format with a local business. Our role here at Total E&P Congo is to make teaching resources available and cover tuition costs for the trainees. We have also mobilized a network of partner business owners who will host the trainees for their on-the-job training and – we hope – hire them upon successful completion of their training.
Lasting creation of value for the host country
Indeed, that is what this is all about: our training and employment initiatives in the Congo all aim to reinforce the local economy through diversification. Of course, Total is not the region’s only recruiter: many different companies do business there, creating a proportionate need for skills. If education ranks among the key pillars of the community engagement policy that supports our business objectives, it is above all because it is through education that the country in which we operate will be able to build a lastingly stronger economy.
The future of the Congo depends on the young people we are helping to train today. Although our initiatives can reach only a small portion of the population, they contribute to establishing a self-perpetuating spiral of development from which the entire population will benefit.
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