Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) recognises that education is vital to community development. The people of the Star Mountains and the Fly River have traditionally learned their culture, language, knowledge and skills as part of village life. Now, since the mine has opened the area to outside influences, many people are aware of the need for further education and formal qualifications, in order to provide a source of income to depend on when the mine closes. Literacy, numeracy and health are high on the list of educational priorities.
Personal Viability Training is an initiative recently adopted by OTML to assist local people in identifying areas in which they need further support and training, and has proven to be very popular.
OTML community development projects have a strong focus on education for women and children. OTML has implemented several women's programs through village-based workshops. This recognises the rapid social change caused by development, and the need for women to become more active, educated and better agents of change in their communities.
Improving the status of women and children in the community is the impetus behind OTML’s welfare programmes. These encompass women’s and children’s rights and campaigns aimed at preventing child abuse and violence against women.
Another key area for training is in women’s leadership skills. These workshops aim to strengthen the existing village women's groups so that they can become members of local level women's associations, which tie into the PNG National Council of Women network. The focus of these workshops is on providing women with the skills to assist them becoming involved in the decision-making process.
Community health has been identified as an area requiring significant village-based programmes, and the Village Health Volunteer programme provides the structure and training for each village’s frontline health services. Likewise, HIV awareness and mothers’ classes help to reduce mortality rates as well as increase understanding and inclusion in the community.
The sustainable development of communities depends on their economic viability, so OTML is coordinating courses in shop keeping as well as production of goods such as vanilla for business purposes.
For several years, OTML has also been providing agricultural resource packages to schools and has recently established Yangpela Didiman (Young Farmer) training centres in the Sandaun and Western Provinces. These projects are supported by Redio Didiman, a Radio Fly community agriculture initiative which deals with fisheries, agricultural and livestock questions.