By Helen Duigan
Editor of www.VeldTalk.co.za and Chairman of Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy
Too many learners? Too few classrooms? No problem, let's build one! Even better – a “green” one.
Bathabile Primary School in Doornrandje has grown so fast that plans had to be made on the run to provide classrooms for its 1 200 learners. This included temporary prefab buildings and corrugated iron structures which are freezers in winter and ovens in summer. So the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy's NewFutures Forum, in collaboration with SEED (Schools Environmental Education and Development), offered to build a “green” classroom for Bathabile.
“Green” comes in many shapes but after considerable deliberation with the school, and expert advice from green building fundi, Alastair Armstrong of Insynch Technologies, it was decided to build a strawbale and adobe brick classroom.
But, this goes beyond just “building a classroom”. It's a community affair with parents, learners and local residents all getting involved in this pioneering venture.
Alastair and Sonia Armstrong taught the technique for both strawbale building and making adobe bricks, using local soils.
Doornrandje resident Niko Knigge has taken on the job of managing this project.
“The firstworking day was very exciting,” he says. “Twenty volunteers turned up for training and we managed to make 60 bricks! This may not sound much, but it's a start. We're all learning new skills.
“Nick Dale a local resident, made the moulds, Tina de Waal (SEED) brought the straw. The school workers removed the fence, the older learners helped clear the site in the morning and the younger children pitched in to clear finer stuff in the afternoon.
“Special thanks to our local Community Police Forum chairman, Francis Gomes, who has assisted with trucks, front-end loader and building materials. lt's very heartening to meet someone who helps so generously.
“PPC Laezonia has also been a great help, donating 10 m³ of sand. Thank you to Henk Wiltz of PPC for organising it.”