This year, a group of fourteen students travelled to Sabah, Malaysian Borneo for six weeks to construct an education centre. This was RED’s first build and was carried out in Gaur, a rural village located north-east of the state capital, Kota Kinabalu.
The main source of income for villagers in Gaur is farming. They grow a number of crops such as pineapple, rubber and banana, which are then sold in a town nearby (approximately an hour drive on a dirt road). The profits they gain from farming is limited and varies according to season and market demand. Hence, most families get by on a week to week basis and do not have the ability to invest financially in community development projects.
The villagers in Gaur realise the need for good education. They understand that education is necessary for their children to progress. Therefore, with the help of our affiliates, the villagers have opened their own kindergarten in order to provide their children with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the primary school education system.
In the past, an old community building was used to house this kindergarten. However, with a growing number of pupils, as well as health and safety issues, the villagers were seeking assistance to build a new facility to house this kindergarten.
This was where RED stepped in, with the objective of constructing a multipurpose education centre that will be used as a kindergarten, as well as a learning centre for children and adults.
We were very excited to assist the villagers of Gaur in this undertaking, as we believe a large part of sustainable development involves locals taking ownership and championing the development efforts themselves. Therefore by assisting them in constructing this facility, as well as training and sponsoring the pre-school teachers (under the responsibility of our affiliates), we are confident that this education facility will bring long-term educational development to Gaur.
RED First Objective
The education centre we built (below) is approximately 6m x 9m in built area and consists of three rooms. A large hall (approx. 6m x 6m), a resource room (approx. 3m x 3m) and a kitchen (approx. 3m x 3m). The large hall will function as both a classroom and a library, while the resource room will be used to store teaching material.
This structure was designed by Imperial College London students with the help of a local contractor and all materials used were sourced locally in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.
To find out more about the construction process please follow the link below to download out full report.
Exchange of knowledge
By working alongside local villagers, we were able to transfer our skills and knowledge on safer construction methods.The previous building on site used to house the kindergarten was constructed out of timber with its foundations consisting of wooden piles driven into the ground. As the soil on site was saturated because of a nearby spring, the wooden piles were rotting as a result. Therefore, by building a French drain and using concrete column footings with no exposed steel elements and sufficient concrete cover, we were able to overcome this issue. Having villagers assist us on this project enabled them to learn important construction methods in order to ensure that a building remains in serviceability limit state throughout its design life. It was also the perfect opportunity to introduce them to the concept of health and safety on site and the importance of wearing Personal Protective Equipment when working at height, working where there is a risk of falling objects and when working with power tools.
However, the exchange of knowledge was not only one way, and more often than not we found ourselves learning extremely useful construction skills and methods from the local villagers. We employed two skilled workers (i.e. local villagers who had construction experience) to assist us in this project. Throughout the construction period, they taught us practical skills, which we were not necessarily exposed to at university.
Aside from that, the exchange of knowledge also occurred through the teaching of English. Upon arrival, a number of villagers requested that we carried out English classes in the evenings. We agreed to this as we saw it as an opportunity for students to interact more with the community they are assisting, as well as a chance to expand RED’s objectives in educational development. We carried out these classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and divided the classes into two groups, one for adults and the other for children and teenagers.
To find out more about how we fulfilled our education objective, please follow the link below to download our full report.
RED Second Objective