As we come to the close of the WAN AWARDS 2011 Education sector, it becomes apparent just how many aesthetically ambitious and technologically advanced institutions are being created today all around the world, making inspiring educational bases accessible for children in the majority of regions.
Architettura senza Frontiere (ASF), the Italian pendant to Architects Without Borders is soon to embark upon an equally ambitious yet much more modest construction project in the village of Tete-Ngomba in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The closest secondary school facility for the 12,500 youths in the area is some 80km away via roads that are largely inaccessible, meaning that the majority of young people finish school at the age of 12 with very few prospects, slipping easily into unemployment, crime, prostitution and drug abuse. The average ages that girls fall pregnant is 13.
With a long history in projects of this nature, ASF was approached by the Diocese of Tshumbe and the Congregation of the Sisters of San Francesco d’Assisi in an effort to stop this constant circle of underdevelopment and unemployment with the construction of an effective secondary school in Tete-Ngomba. The first phase of the project begins in May 2011 and is due to last for five months, utilising abundant natural materials from the lush surroundings of the selected plot.
ASF will be running a range of vocational courses before building work commences, training the villagers of Tete-Ngomba in the field of construction so that they may build the school facilities themselves under the guidance of a qualified ASF architect. Not only does this approach enhance community spirit, but it provides the individuals with transferable skills and technical qualifications which may provide incentives for new initiatives and allows the village to be completely self-sufficient in terms of building maintenance.
Laura Rapisarda, leading architect on the project, explains: “This project is very important and in the best interest of the local population who strongly wish to have a school, and who are prepared to be involved in all aspects of development foreseen for the project. Contributing to the construction of the school, the teachers’ houses and the furniture – activities that will form the practical part of the training courses – means that the youths of the village will learn to work, and be taught a profession. The main objective for us is to succeed in kick-starting a process of general improvements in the zone in order to revive the small local economy beginning with education and the ability to work on behalf of the population.”
Phase one of the project includes: the first cycle of vocational training courses; construction of a road giving access to the school from surrounding villages; a water supply well; construction of six classrooms for 540 students; and 14 houses for 18 teachers. This will be followed by a second phase including the second cycle of vocational training courses and the construction of administrative buildings and a boarding school for students living in distant villages. Photovoltaic systems will be incorporated into the complex to generate enough electricity to run the facility independently.
ASF are looking for volunteers and financial donations to the cause, with the opportunity for paid field-positions arising from time to time. For more information please contact Lisa Petersen on +39 348 2160 537 or visit www.asfit.org
Additional projects undertaken by the organisation include: Project Telema – a psychiatric clinic in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo; Project Columbia – community and social housing for a group of 40 families including infrastructure institutions such as nursery; Masterplan in Ghana – wide-scale plan to redevelop a large hospital and surrounding area in Foson City, Ghana; Project Tiburtina – working with immigrants of the outskirts of Rome to transform abandoned houses into refurbished community centres.