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.