During the team’s assessment trips, a strong need was uncovered at the local primary school. The existing facilities included nine classrooms, an administrative building, a kitchen, and latrines, most of which required substantial renovations. Furthermore, due to a growing student population and lack of space, several classes were being taught outdoors, showing a need for more classrooms at the school.
In February 2008, at the recommendation of the EWB-NY team, Mwikali’s Gift provided $5,000 to Mr. Jackson Maweu, School Committee Chairman, to renovate the nine classrooms. With the funds, concrete floors were added to the classrooms (floors previously consisted of compacted dirt), steel doors were added, operable glass windows were installed, rotted wooden roof trusses were replaced, the exteriors of both buildings were stuccoed and painted, and an additional gutter was added to the six classroom buildings to contribute to the catchment tank.
In June 2008, EWB-NY performed an assessment of the school site and conditions. The team used planning exercises to engage the school officials, performed architectural surveys of existing buildings and a topographical survey of the entire school property, held many formal and informal interviews, and visited three local primary schools for comparison. Incorporating the community’s input, the team created a master plan that included a set of new classrooms and a new library building.
Over the summer of 2009, EWB-NY returned to Usalama for the construction of a new library for the primary school. As a standalone structure with a simple design, this building served as a good project for EWB-NY and the Usalama community’s skilled workers to work together. After construction completion, 4,000 books were donated to the library by the Global Education Fund.
In 2010, a four-classroom building was constructed. The building was designed with similar dimensions to existing structures, but it also included new architectural elements and utilized long-lasting construction materials. For instance, stone blocks were used instead of baked brick for improved sturdiness, and steel reinforcement was incorporated into the structure. The roof structure was also designed to allow more sunlight to enter the space.
Since the upgrade of the school facilities, Usalama Primary School has reported improved student performance, and has won awards for high test scores and excellent school administration. Our team is proud and excited to have helped establish a better learning environment for the community.
Read more from our team about this project at usalamaproject.blogspot.com.