IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
There are many issues that you will need to consider when planning to set up a school or
other institutional building project in a developing country. This brief describes some of
processes and stages that should be considered before starting on the building work, from the
initial community consultation through to its implementation.
Building partnerships at an early stage will help communities take ownership of the processes
and improve the project outcomes. Your role may be to facilitate partnerships that empower
communities and identify their needs. This will ultimately lead to more sustainable
It is important to ensure gender equality throughout this process. Depending on the status of
women within the community they might not always be well represented on boards,
discussion groups and committees.
Clear communication and transfer of information is paramount. Through forming a
relationship with the community you will develop trust. There are many questions to be asked
and to be communicated to the community:
How do you establish effective lines of communication between yourself, the school
management committee (if applicable), parents and the wider community?
Establish early on your role within the project and make this clear to the community.
Are you a donor, facilitator, architect, engineer, consultant, partnering organisation?
Make clear what you are going to contribute to the project and what your limits are in
terms of time and commitment.
Establish who does what within the community and who you can work with. Where
possible do not rely on one person as your point of contact for the dissemination of
information as you risk giving domination to those with this role.
Participatory planning and methodology
When designing a school the students and the wider community are the clients and should
determine the brief. This will give you a clear understanding of what is most needed.
There are many methods of engaging students to identify the main issues that concern them
about their school environment. It would be ideal to conduct design workshops with children
of the local community asking questions such as “What is your school like now? How would
you like to see it?”
To make sure you are reaching a broad cross section of the community it is advisable to
conduct a baseline survey to gain local information. It is wise to develop a mixture of
appropriate methods to gather the required information as not everyone will respond well to a
questionnaire. For example a series of group meetings or workshops might be more effective.
Make sure to treat survey information with respect and confidentiality, being careful with how
you present your findings to the wider public.
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