Blog: Stories from Nicaragua

Designed to educate: breaking ground on the school in El Jicarito

By Casey Callais, 6/10/2016 – There are three areas of education that Seeds of Learning Managua envisions to change in the Tipitapa region: access, quality and relevance. SOL Managua’s latest project isn’t just about giving kids a new place to learn. It’s about providing an quality education that is meaningful to them. The forward-thinking design of the elementary school that SOL Managua is helping the community of El Jicarito to build wraps up all three of those elements in one structure and this week we are excited to be breaking ground on the project.

The community

El Jicarito (aka Monte Sinai) isn’t even recognizable as a community as it follows the dusty road from the industrial chicken farm to the larger village of Los Laureles. Shacks sit far from the road with farms in between, with those who live within half an hour’s walk of one another considered to be close neighbors. The older kids of the community either walk several kilometers or hitch rides to get to school while their younger siblings often get left behind. Currently the MINED (Ministry of Education) provides an elementary-school teacher to give class in the home of Freddy, a local leader. The school’s official name is “Love for the Littlest Ones”, and it is those little ones that are in most need of an improved space to learn.

 

The project

With the successful funding of the indiegogo crowdfunded campaign to build the new school in El Jicarito, we are breaking ground with a real spring in our step. In fact, the best way to describe the project we are building is to let the indiegogo campaign do it for us.

“EL JICARITO SCHOOL is an innovative low-cost school design that brings a community together through collaborative construction methods, using local materials, while creating a new educational space that will enhance creativity.”

The theme is learning from the building + learning in the building. The learning in the building is obvious: it’s a school. The learning from the building is where this project gets interesting. We will be constructing using both well-known methods (blocks, cement, corrugated steel roofing) and more innovative, less expensive techniques (superadobe, open-roof ventilation). Find more information about the project on our Indiegogo campaign page (please note that although the campaign has ended, this page is still a great source of information and you can even donate there, if you like!).

jicarito plans

inside 1

This is a fairly large project for us at Seeds of Learning and we couldn’t even get this far without help. The architectural plans were drawn up by Knitknot free of charge and the technical plans are being delivered by Precision Structural Engineering at a deep discount.

Breaking ground

This week we are officially starting the construction. As you can see, we have a long way to go.

El Jicarito ground with team making plans

Dimas, Roger, Sergio and Julian look over the layout of the school on site

But we have started. This week our two foremen, Dimas and Roger, constructed a bodega to store tools and materials. The team also met with the community to discuss their role in building their school and next week’s visit by the 21-strong Jesuit High School group from Portland, Oregon.

building the bodega in el jicarito

Roger and friends working on the bodega

 

IMG_1403

Least muscular kid in the community

 

community meeting in el jicarito

Panoramic view of the community meeting at the location of the school with Julian on the left and Freddy on the far right.

 

100 year old man and his amiguito

The guy on the left turned 100 years old in March. He is excited to be picking up a shovel and helping out on this project!

 

On Sunday the Jesuit High School group arrives and we have shovels for every one of them. We will begin working on the foundations and be getting plenty dirty in the process. The Jesuit group is here for only a week and change but this project will go on until September or later. If you or your group are interested in helping out, contact us directly and we will see how we can make it happen.

We will be posting regular updates about the project as construction continues. In the meantime we are offering an amazing deal for people who are interested in this project. Donate to help buy whiteboards, desks, computers, etc. and receive Knitknot’s architectural plans, Precision Structural Engineering’s structural design (compliant with the 2012 International Building Code), Seeds of Learning’s complete construction report AND a 2-hour phone call with the Seeds of Learning team. This is ideal for anyone who is interested in building their own superadobe project and the money goes to cover school supplies and resources. Donate

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