Building A Model School: A Local School is a Point of Pride
By Carol Ann Emquies, Nina Hogan, and Jane Oppenheimer, Africa Schoolhouse
In 2014, President Jakaya Kikwete visited our first project, Ntulya Primary School, deeming it “a model school that should be copied throughout Tanzania." As we break ground on Milembe Girls Secondary School in nearby Iteja Village, the concept of an efficient, repeatable school drives our plans and execution. What makes a school model-worthy? After 8 years and a variety of building projects in rural Tanzania, we have come to learn there are varying essential elements that define what makes a school successful.
Collaboration is the path to a sustainable future.
The best projects are defined through community conversations. As a grass-roots organization, Africa Schoolhouse is proud of our successful collaboration with small communities and rural government districts. Each project evolves from ongoing discussions within communities to identify need and each has gained the support and partnership of the government district. A Memorandum of Understanding ensures that expectations are clearly defined and the partnership is solidified. Curriculum and teachers are provided by the district to conform to the national standard. What begins through collaboration with local communities and the local government ends in projects in which everyone feels proud.
Sustainability and innovation are crucial to ventures undertaken in rural Tanzania. Deep-bore wells and rainwater harvesting are necessary for these projects to supply drinking, washing and cooking water. Wells should be built for long-term use to provide access to clean drinking water that will last indefinitely, while installing cisterns takes advantage of long rainy seasons.
Composting latrines reduce ecological destruction and promote more sanitary conditions. Using locally sourced and sustainable construction materials for buildings and landscape is better for the environment and enables ease of maintenance. Bricks are fired using rice husks rather than wood, to avoid deforestation. Employing a fully local staff creates the opportunity to offer job training for the women and men living in the rural areas that need these projects. Experienced workers mentor new workers; we are very proud to have Africa Schoolhouse trained women and men now well established in their communities as respected masons, bricklayers, and carpenters.
A model school has the opportunity to improve daily life and inspire new ways of thinking. Innovations like roof-mounted photovoltaic panels and functional science labs enhance the daily lives of students and help create opportunities for their futures. The team of architects at Scattergood Design have developed creative roof and window innovations that permit light and air circulation while providing optimal protection from extreme elements. To create a replicable model, it is important to always ask: Is there a better way? How can this classroom be lighter, have better airflow, and keep out the rain in more efficient ways?
Look to the past to think ahead; our mistakes and successes are equally important to keep in mind as we begin the journey to create a new model campus where female students will thrive. Above all, we want to construct excellent schools that will help generations of children live full, healthy and productive lives. Our goal is for the Milembe Girls Secondary School to be a model that can be replicated throughout Tanzania enabling all girls to receive an education.
Africa Schoolhouse works in partnership with communities and the local government in rural Tanzania to build desperately needed schools, deep wells and medical clinics.