Education & Skills

Through education and skills, rural communities can move from subsistence to prosperous lives.

In today’s fast changing world, education and skills are essential no matter where you live, or at whatever stage of your career. For Olam this extends from one end of the spectrum to the other: from smallholder farmers needing to learn how to read, write and even count to senior executives honing leadership skills. Such is its importance that in 2018 it was identified as new material (priority) area in our Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability framework.

We are committed to transferring skills to national populations, where the may not have previously existed.

In Gabon, for example, while current management roles are filled primarily by expat palm industry experts, a Nationalisation Policy led by the Olam Palm Gabon Training and Development will ensure that Gabonese nationals fill many of the roles by 2025. Equally, Olam employs almost 9,000 people on the plantations, many of whom have never had a full time job before. Through training and coaching they are learning many agricultural skills to take back to their communities. This also happens around our coffee plantations and rice farm in Nigeria.

Increasing access to schools

When tackling child labour in smallholder supply chains, one of the main root causes is quite simply an absence of schools in the area, especially within walking distance, which means the child is more likely to be helping on the farm. Other factors also play a part – while primary school is usually free, secondary school requires the parents to pay a fee. A lack of birth certificates can also deprive children of being able to access schooling. Supporting the establishment of new schools, refurbishing old schools and providing school kits are all ways in which Olam helps to increase the opportunity for the children of farmers to receive an education.

Reaching women farmers

When thinking of how to tackle issues such as food insecurity, poverty and deforestation, women are often one of the main stakeholder groups who can drive change. The issue is that we often work in traditional rural settings where women do not usually take frontline roles or feel they are able to speak or participate in decision-making processes. Men often manage families’ finances, even if the women are carrying out the money-making activities. So we must empower women, socially and financially, to have the confidence to get involved without causing issues in the community. Education is essential as outlined in this by the Olam Cocoa Ghana team which is working specifically with women to educate them on the role of forests in minimising climate change impacts. Read more in Diversity & Inclusion.

Read how in Côte d’Ivoire we have been training the teachers who help cotton farmers to count.

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