With the COVID 19 pandemic continuing to have a significant impact, Build It International is continuing work in Zambia to help unemployed young men and women to train for a career in construction. The charity has adapted its programmes and started new initiatives to respond to the pandemic.
A significant part of Build It’s work is delivering vocational skills training and employment support for disadvantaged young people in Zambia, providing the skills they need for a career in construction. Training is delivered both at the organisation’s Centre of Excellence and through community building projects. Build It has developed a highly effective training model; providing vocational skills courses with industry based work experience and Life Skills education, which is new to Zambia.
Students at the Centre of Excellence
Through the Centre they have developed a series of market driven skills courses offering entry-level skills in Brick and blocklaying, rough carpentry, painting, plastering and tiling. A unique and important component of this training model is the paid work experience, which provides industry relevant experience, which improved graduate employability. Zambia has a shortage of skilled construction workers, with around 17,000 new workers needed each year across the country, so as well as giving the trainees a chance of a career the courses also help to meet this shortfall.
Over lockdown, Build It had to close the Centre of Excellence and pause all community projects as part of the lockdown restrictions. To help ensure the students didn’t fall too behind, the trainers recorded distance learning course content onto electronic tablets and made them available for the students to take away with them to enable them to complete home based assessments. The video content didn’t need an internet connection to work, making it accessible to all students who used the tablets. Since introducing this initiative, the charity has continued to use video content as part of their teaching to enhance trainee and graduate learning.
Students with electronic tablets used for distance learning
As restrictions started to lift in September, the organisation launched its Safe Hands Programme. The programme involves installing permanent hand wash stations at schools in Zambia, helping to improve hygiene and allowing children back into school safely. By the end of September, four stations had been installed at Kamaila Primary and Secondary Schools and Moomba Primary and Secondary Schools. Build It are on average completing one station per week at different schools, with an aim of reaching 20,000 children across the country.
Hand washing facilities at Kamaila Primary and Secondary Schools
Build It are also working on building new facilities at the Light of Hope School in Livingstone. With graduates from their Training into Work programme, the charity is constructing new classrooms, alatrine block and a teacher’s house. Build It is also constructing a much need new shower and toilet block for young people at Katombora Reformatory School, which is replacing the out-dated and unhygienic facilities they are currently using.
Mercy, a pupil at Chitukuko Primary School, wears one of the masks donated by Built It International
Built It has now begun to welcome students back to the centre so that they can continue with their training. With new processes and safety procedures in place to keep students safe, around 85% of trainees have now returned to their courses.
Built It International is a partner of The Happold Foundation through the Organisational Grantscheme, which provides not for profit organisations core funding to support their work in human development and the built environment.