As half term holidays approached, we began on the renovation of the school.our first priority was to provide a healthy and safe learning environment while school was in session; a core component for all educational institutions. This is a key objective for Milele foundation Uganda when designing a renovation project on an active school.
From the very beginning of the planning and design phases we initiated comprehensive client-centered communications, digging deeply into the needs of the school community by listening, questioning and learning. Once we gathered the specific needs for each project, we considered the impact on the students, faculty and staff during each phase.
For example, we pre-planed a schedule to provide temporary areas to assure continuity and uninterrupted programs. This meant setting up a provisional space for a woodshop to remain operational,bringing in a transitory air-conditioning “plant” to keep students and staff cool while their own system was under renovation.
Day-to-day communication elevates safety for all concerned. While each group may have communicated differently, the essential key was that communication is well timed, two-way, inclusive and continuous. Immediate communication, such as social media, guarantees that all the sponsors stay informed up to the minute. On addition to that construction created learning Opportunities for some of the teachers and students.
Ongoing construction shouldn’t be viewed as a disruption; rather it should be celebrated and integrated into the curriculum. In every project, we searched for learning opportunities to engage students in the design and building process. In one recent project, a math teacher took advantage of the construction activity occurring just outside his classroom window to teach sequencing, timelines and process, making this a real-world example as part of his daily lesson.
First and foremost, we started and ended with safety considerations during construction. A few of the critical means we used included:
Separating construction from student learning areas;
Restricting risky work such as overhead construction to weekends, evenings and holidays when those spaces are unoccupied; and
Visually and physically securing construction zones.
Our goal was to minimize disruption to the learning process,promote safety for the inhabitants of the school and even enhance learning during a renovation.
Therefore with this done we are able to say we are in completion of the first phase of this project.