2000 Winner
Western Cape Province, South Africa
Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust
Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust
South Africa
The Zerilda Park Building Project is a component of a larger initiative undertaken by a number of schools in Lavender Hill, Cape Town to address problems of crime and vandalism which affected their community, and their schools. The focus of the overall initiative is on community development project and job creation through skills training. The project aims to integrate the schools into the community, and develop a sense of pride, ownership and protection from the community.

Zerilda Park Primary School took on the co-ordination of the job creation component of the community development plan. The school provided space and facilities for a range of skills training projects. In partnership with the Athlone Technical College courses in brick making, bricklaying, carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, painting and glazing, and other building skills are offered. School-leavers and unemployed parents are targeted to participate in the training programme. In addition to skills training, the project offers education and training on personal and family development, the roles and responsibility of parents, basic budgeting, responsible citizenship and conflict resolution.

Following the training, graduates are assisted in finding paid employment. At the commencement of the project, graduates assisted in the refurbishment of the high school as paid employees. From there, many graduates have commenced working for building and refurbishing contractors in the area, enabling them to earn a steady income.

A core activity of the project is the Bricks 'n Blocks Project that generates around 1200 bricks per day, utilizing a cement mixer and two block machines. Through networking and marketing, the bricks are sold to local contractors, hardware stores and community members. This component of the project has been particularly successful, as it has coincided with the upgrading and expansion of the community. Many people have taken advantage of the Project and used its wares to build their own homes. Through the sale of bricks the project has become entirely self-sustaining, and does not require external funding.

Zerilda Park Building Project is a successful schools-driven approach to community development. The project offers members of the community access to real, marketable skills, which, in turn, have had a positive impact on the attitude of the community around the school, which is the centre of development rather than a target for crime and vandalism.

"It is important to keep money within the community. If we could train people in these skills, and they could work to refurbish the schools, why should we hire outsiders?" Alistair Witten, Principal, Zerilda Park Primary School.

Innovation: The project is school-driven. The school and its governing body have its roots in the community and understand its needs. Schools are well placed to initiate community projects because they have space, infrastructural facilities, institutional and organisational capacity. Using a school as the central point reduces the possible conflict that could arise due to competing interests from community groups.
Poverty impact: Employment and income-generating opportunities are provided for unemployed parents and young adults in the community. Renewed interest in the school as a centre of learning and other community-related activities. Learned skills enable trainees to seek employment outside of the project. Rehabilitation work is done with gang-members and ex-prisoners. There has been a radical drop in crime, violence and vandalism on the school premises, and a renewed interest and commitment to the school, where learners can study without fear.
Replication: The project is capable of replication in other parts of the country, in both urban and rural settings. Successful replication would depend on strong institutional and organizational capacity being obtained from a school to implement and sustain the projects, recognition from the educational authorities and the development of projects, which are appropriate to the needs of the community.