SDD envisions a self-sufficient educational campus where sustainable and thoughtful architecture inspires, wells address water scarcity, and education drives community empowerment. SDD, alongside partner organizations, will design and construct a four-school campus. The campus is expected to serve as a community center catered to pupils of all ages, where facilities are dedicated to the passing of Rwandan cultural heritage, women are encouraged to participate and take leadership roles, and an entire community can empower itself to cooperate and learn together. In collaboration with its design, engineering, and hydrology team based in New York City and Rwanda, SDD believes that construction provides technical training and empowerment.
The Technical training programs begin outside of a formal classroom setting with the construction process of the campus itself. The construction of the educational campus allows for community training and participation through organization and team mobilization to welding, brick and block making, carpentry, and masonry on-site training. From the outset of construction, an additional Construction Management Team, comprised of managers, instructors, and skilled laborers is brought in to begin on-site training within the community. As the training and construction process progresses, cooperatives are given space to form; teamwork and collaborative approaches to problem solving are fostered. Rather than treating the construction process as a phase to be endured and expedited, the Rwinkwavu Inclusive Educational Campus treats this necessary process as a capacity-building opportunity. This integrated approach to the design and construction process provides a scalable model which, coupled with ongoing, community-based design and planning efforts in Rwinkwavu, creates opportunities for empowerment, capacity building, and knowledge transfer throughout the project timeline from conceptualization through implementation. While this inclusive process has been developed to maximize learning/training opportunities, the product of these efforts is an architecture imbued with the hopes, aspirations, and priorities of the people it aims to serve. This concept of architecture by the people and for the people creates community buy-in through inclusion and co-development. Furthermore, by collaborating with local communities, development efforts are more targeted and specific, making the investment more impactful.
Educational and economic growth is integral to the sustainable development of the community. SDD's CGI Commitment of design, landscaping, engineering, hydrology, and construction-based training initiatives will empower the Rwinkwavu community by improving the access and quality of local education with four new teaching facilities: a nursery school to provide early childhood education, primary and secondary schools to increase literacy and promote quality learning, and a vocational school/ women's cooperative center to encourage local capacity building, develop marketable skills, and foster entrepreneurship. By seeking partners who can take over the operational responsibilities of the schools upon completion of the campus training and construction, SDD aims to forge critical alliances with not only the government of Rwanda's Ministry of Education, but also with initiatives and institutions that can be implementing partners.
- Approvals and land acquisition
-Space planning and test fits for the campus site
January 2014 - January 2015:
-Design and Engineering of the project
-Community mobilization and training
- Completion of Nursery School (prioritized based on community needs)
- Completion of Technical-Vocational School
- Completion of large scale Primary School (construction used for Technical School trades program)
- Completion of Secondary School and Multi-Purpose Space
- Fully operational educational complex in Rwinkwavu
Building upon SDD's ongoing research and outreach within the community, the next phase of the project is the approvals and land acquisition phase, which will be completed by January of 2014. The space planning and test fits for the campus site will be completed concurrently. The next phase is two pronged: the design and engineering phase of the project and the community mobilization and training phase must be conducted simultaneously from January 2014 to January 2015. Based on community prioritization of required educational facilities, the Nursery School elements will be the first to be constructed, with a completion date of January 2016. This manageable scale community construction project will help to establish the trainers for the next program element to be constructed, the Technical-Vocational School. The Technical School and Women's Cooperative Space will be in the process of formation throughout the community development project and the workshops, physical infrastructure and classrooms will be on a construction timeline to be completed by January 2017. The next construction project to be completed and used as a Technical School program in construction trades will be the Primary School, which is of a fairly large scale based on the population demographics of the area and the need for extracurricular spaces such as playing fields, a youth center space as well as a girl's center. This construction process will be completed by March 2018. The final construction phase is the Secondary School and Multi-Purpose Space which will complete the physical infrastructures required for the functionality of the multi-generational educational program for Rwinkwavu which is to be fully operational by January of 2019.
Rwinkwavu is a rural sector in the Eastern Province of Rwanda (pop. 21,000), home to a Partners In Health (PIH) and Ministry of Health (MoH) regional hospital and a Wolfram tin mining operation. In January and July of 2013, Sharon Davis Design (SDD), in partnership with Rwanda Village Enterprises (RVE) and Architecture for Humanity, conducted public participatory design sessions and cooperative engagements in Rwinkwavu. The initial intention was to discuss housing needs; however, community feedback showed that housing alone would not empower this underserved population. Without increased educational opportunities for children and economic opportunities for adults through training and vocational programs, the community will remain caught in a cycle of poverty that is increasingly difficult to break.
There are only six schools in the entire Rwinkwavu sector, between two and six kilometers from town. According to the IGIHE online journal, as of February 2013 more than 600 students in the past 16 months had dropped out of Rwinkwavu schools, seeking work in local tin mines. According to the volunteer Community Advisory Board established by SDD and RVE in January 2013, the Sector's only Nursery School serves 83 children in a single classroom, double the maximum classroom size standard set by the Ministry of Education (Rwanda Ministry of Education, May 2009). This lack of educational infrastructure is compounded by the fact that children devote large periods of each day walking to water pumps along Rue Akagera, a dusty, unpaved and often dangerous thoroughfare. Unfortunately, barriers to education and self-empowerment exist for community members of all ages. Many adolescents and adults have little or no access to skills training and must depend on subsistence farming to support and feed their families. A local women's farming cooperative told SDD, 'The goal is to find training and new job skills so that we no longer must be cultivators
for now we have no choice because we have no education.'
SDD requires financial sponsorship and commitments of implementation. SDD also requires operational entities that have relevant experience and the ability to collaborate on spatial requirements and upon completion of construction, to manage the curriculum, teacher procurement and training, operating costs, and ongoing success of the educational programs.
SDD is interested in assisting CGI members in the execution of their commitments through community-driven design. SDD can offer assistance and services relating to design, planning, management, advocacy through design initiatives, and empowerment through architecture and construction with an emphasis on appropriate technologies and sustainability.