Low School Attendance in Developing Communities: A Case Study of the Socioeconomic Risks of Low-Value Mineral Mining

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:10
Oral Presentation
Alexandra DE CIANTIS, University College London, United Kingdom
Ayush GUPTA, University of Toronto, Canada
In 2015, the European Union partnered with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to launch an initiative promoting and investing in low-value mineral mining in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states. Low value mineral mining possesses three unique characteristics which make it an ideal vehicle for development. Firstly, these mines are labour intensive and have the capacity to generate significant employment for low and medium skilled workers. Secondly, low-value mineral mining is not capital intensive and is therefore suited for underdeveloped communities. Finally, low-value mineral mining produces materials that significantly contribute to local-level development. Notoriously, mining resources typically bypass local-level development; hitting international markets while consequently neglecting community infrastructure.

The purpose of our case study is to explore some of the economic, social and political risks associated with low-value mineral mining. We have decided to focus on the low school attendance of young males, a historical development trap, as a potential risk. Given that these mines are labour intensive, our data suggests that they might negatively affect the school attendance of young males in some regions. It is therefore essential for the United Nations to acknowledge the undesirable effects of this project and take adequate measures to prevent them.

The history of development programs and aid work has shown that understanding the social and political climate is key to the success of the programs. Ultimately, the low-value mineral mining initiative launched by the UNDP has the potential to develop post-conflict communities, strengthen democratic institutions and alleviate civil strife. This case study serves to equip the United Nation’s project with local-level knowledge of a social dynamic such as school attendance that has long been a developmental trap for ACP states.