CODEP want to improve formal and non-formal educational provision in Sierra Leone. Our projects fall into three categories:
(i) The construction of learning and literacy resource centres: where future community education and health programmes and resources will be housed;
(ii) The establishment of school libraries and classrooms equipped with books and furniture; and
(iii) The establishment of technical apprenticeships and aprenticeship programmes.
Our first construction project is a learning and literacy resource centre which will be built in the town of Waterloo, Sierra Leone, 30km outside the capital Freetown. The centre will be known as the Equiano Centre, named after Olaudah Equiano the emancipated slave whose autobiography depicting the horrors of slavery inspired the writings of William Wilberforce and his nineteenth century campaign to emancipate enslaved Africans. However we hope expand our efforts so that we can also focus on the districts of Bo and Kenema.
The Equiano Centre has a wide and varied target audience from children at school in a formal educative setting, through to illiterate adults who missed out on their education as a result of the decade long civil war and for whom books will be both threatening and of little use.
To cope with this varied target audience, the centre has five functional areas including an ICT room, a book kiosk which will house 40,000 books, adult and child learning facilities and a community room – a flexible meeting and learning space. The five functions are arranged in a campus village style around a central piazza, parts of which are stepped to create an outside amphitheatre where performances or talks can take place, day or night. The centre is fully accessible to the disabled/less mobile, and there is also WC provision. Security for the centre has been designed in so the external block wall will form both a security feature and main structural wall at the same time – this is essential to upholding the accessible and open feel.
Research was undertaken to distill the stages of learning and how to dissolve the barriers of literacy so the centre is relevant to children and adults alike. The centre layout and composition, termed the ‘learning landscape’, has been specifically designed to create an accessible family-based learning environment where children and adults, literate and illiterate, and particularly women are able to feel welcome and enjoy the learning experience. For example a child may attend a reading workshop in the child learning facility while the mother is in the community room listening to a talk on health related issues and the father is in the ICT room using an e-learning tool.
A key feature of the design is the overall canopy system which has been designed to meet two objectives: firstly to provide ventilation to the five functioning areas and secondly to harvest rain water from the six month rainy season. The rainwater collection and the building systems will also provide a learning opportunity for the community who can adopt these approaches to their own homes or new structures.
Sustainability on this project is not just about delivering a low carbon building. It is about ensuring every element of the construction logic is relevant, familiar and supportive to the local construction skill base. That the materials used are familiar to the tough African conditions, require minimal maintenance and have a whole life durability. It is also about operational requirements and minimal costs so after project completion and the centre is open, it remains a vibrant and successful resource. These considerations have been central to our design process.
We are utilizing every opportunity through this project to enhance economic and social development in Freetown and Waterloo. Whether through the use of local consultants and contractors to deliver the project, through the encouragement of research opportunities in the local university and technical colleges or through the use of local labour and provision of training opportunities we are maximizing the opportunities the project provides.
Contact: Sebastian Wood, Chair of Project Delivery Committee – email@example.com
For more information about Sierra Leone why not visit the BOB website.
Alternatively check out the Country Profile: Sierra Leone