The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) held two workshops in southern Africa in which 35 students from Johannesburg, South Africa, and Gaborone, Botswana learned the basics of gemology, mineralogy and geology. The GIA Junior Gemologist Program™ workshop, which was held in Johannesburg on April 11 and in Gaborone on April 12, provided students ranging in age from 10 to 15 with hands-on, practical training with loupes and other specialized gemological equipment as they learned to identify and assess gems including, quartz, fluorite, corundum and calcite.
Students from Tshwaragano Primary School, Ikageng Primary School, Legae Academy and Mogoditshane Community Junior Secondary School – all located in Gaborone – participated in the program.
Eleven-year-old Maphanga Njabulo from PS Tsosane Primary School in Johannesburg, wrote, “I now want to be a gemologist. I wanted to be a graphic designer before, because I’m good at design. This is my first time learning about diamonds.”
Donna Baker, GIA's president, said, “Education is a powerful force that will drive opportunities for these students and ultimately for their communities. We are pleased to contribute to this effort and introduce young people to gemology. Education is at the core of our mission.”
Local and national officials attended both workshops with Baker and Paul Kreutz, a member of GIA’s board of governors. Banyana Moloisame, the chief diamond inspector of South African Diamond and Precious Metals Regulator, attended the program in Johannesburg. The event in Gaborone included Pauline Paledi, executive director of Botswana Diamond Manufacturers Association; Jacob A.R. Thamage, coordinator of Diamond Hub Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources; Levis Thupa, accreditation specialist from Botswana Training Authority; and Susan Matlolela, principal minerals officer of Diamond Hub Ministry of Minerals.
GIA developed its Junior Gemologist Program to teach gemology, geology and mineralogy to students and youth groups. More than 24,000 students have participated in the program to date.