goodmorningpapua.com – Arizona State University got a big win at the end of 2022 that had nothing to do with athletic competition but a lot to do with Freeport-McMoRan and helping improve the careers of Indonesian college students.
ASU recently was awarded a $6 million, five-year Higher Education Partnership Initiative (HEPI) grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve programs in select Indonesian higher education institutions in mining-relevant curriculum.
That’s what brought an entourage of 36 visiting faculty members of Indonesian polytechnical and technical universities to Freeport’s Miami operations in December for a tour of smelter and rod mill operations.
PTFI is a key industry partner in the HEPI, which aims to improve industry-relevant curriculum, help Indonesian universities meet international accreditation standards and increase course credit recognition between U.S. and Indonesian universities.
“These faculty members are at polytechnical and technical universities in Indonesia, so a big part of this program is raising their academic rigor, getting their programs up to international standards,” said LeRoy Hollenbeck, Director, Social Responsibility and Community Development-Phoenix. “That means when we’re looking for a new geological engineer, the one from Indonesia is qualified. These gains also will make Indonesian course credits more transferable to U.S. and other international universities.”
Progress spurs demand
Indonesia’s progress in graduating more high school students is sparking greater demand for post- secondary education, and the initiative will work to upgrade the teaching curricula at Indonesian universities to meet industry requirements, Hollenbeck said.
In addition to hosting the 36 faculty members, Freeport employees also took part in an information-sharing session two days later on ASU’s Tempe campus.
PTFI even contributed to the win for ASU through a provision of support letter used in the ASU HEPI proposal. Rob Schroeder, Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer-PTFI, who penned the letter, noted PTFI’s own commitment to inclusion and diversity and previous work with USAID and on its own to help Indonesian students.
“Our approach to inclusion and diversity across our global business reflects the diversity of our community, as 98 percent of our workforce is Indonesian and more than 40 percent are Papuan,” Schroeder wrote. “As a company, ongoing career and skill development through training and education is critical to foster pathways to employment with the right people having the right skills to deliver on our business strategy today and into the future.”
PTFI previously has worked with USAID through the Papuan Agricultural Development Alliance, a partnership to bring economic development to remote areas of Papua.
The company also launched a mentorship initiative in early 2020 focusing on Papuan undergraduate students attending U.S. universities financed through the Government of Indonesia as they pursue their post-secondary degrees.
Since spring of 2020, the initiative has reached more than 70 Papuan students, 68 percent of whom are women.
PTFI’s own Nemangkawi Mining Institute has trained and placed more than 2,000 graduates, of whom more than 90 percent are indigenous Papuans.