Many people and organizations have come to me with "We're going to build a school in Africa, how do we do it?". Some might never have been to Africa, some may have been on holiday there. My initial reaction is don't or join another well established charity with a proven record. How would we like it if a some unknown foreigner came, bought some land and started building a school in our locality? Ask yourself those same questions in an Ethiopian setting. Any school should "fit in" with the local way of doing things, discuss with the local government, communities and their leaders. Don't try to transplant what works where you come from. "Our" way of working does not necessarily work elsewhere. Make sure that whatever you do will become self-supporting. If I recommernd one thing it would be to find a local agent whom you can trust totally and let them act for you. There are so many do's and don't's, I may risk being classed as a pessimist. After 50 years working with African communities, I don't claim to have half the answers, but what I do know is that bad or poor development can actually do more harm than good.
“Only Africa can develop Africa and you can't achieve anything unless you work with Africans” “[you] need to understand Africa and how it thinks and works” “None of the...advocates of aid for Africa are African” “Aid can speed up development that people have already decided to carry out for themselves and have the capacity to do” ”it's about doing lots of little things better at grass roots level (with) the emphasis on doing” “small amounts of aid can work well in local contexts” (c) Richard Dowden in his superb book “Africa” 2008 Portobello Books ISBN 978 1 84627 154 0
We do not consider our support as “Aid” in the conventional sense. These school projects are what the communities themselves want and have already committed themselves to by starting construction or gathering local materials. We are helping facilitate what they want to do by providing a local Engineer and supervised funding which are both currently beyond these local communities capacity to raise.
All school projects are only accepted on recommendations by our partners EYES after recommendation by the local Bureau of Education (BoE). We work in fully integrated manner with the BoE and local communty. We only adopt any new community elementary school upgrading projects with a fully commited local community and school staff which are essential to any success. Few of our schools have any services like water, electricity or communications which is indicative of the areas we are working in.
When we commit to a school we do what we promise, although whatever we are able to do ultimately depends on our ability to raise funds.
Once a school is completed it is handed over in its entirity to the community and BoE to maintain and provide teachers respectively, so it is effectrively self-supporting from Day 1.
Our next project is to build a new Full Elementary School at HOHOLE, SE of Mekelle. The current small school is only two shacks with four grades attending in two shifts. We have the land and some construction costs are pledged, but we need funds for more classrooms, toilets, a library, furniture and to install solar electricity (for £ 36,000). This power enables evening classes to be held for those youngsters who are too busy farming to attend at day-time. These projects will be done by local labour using local materals supervised by a Contractor and our Engineer.
Sponsor one classroom for 50+: £8,500 (four rooms in one block). 25 desks for 50: £875 (£35 each). Library/Activity Room £15,000, Staff Room £7,500 & Store £7,500 (all in one block), Dry latrine for eight: £6,000. We also need other items like blackboards, notice boards, shelves, desk and chairs. Phone 0800-652-9475 or contact David on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss or make a pledge to pay over time.
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