Building Schools




Children, parents, and grandparents attending buildOn schools globally

For two decades buildOn has mobilized rural communities in some of the poorest countries on the planet to build 611 schools.

We build schools with villages that have historically had no adequate school structure – where students are squeezed into dark and crumbling mud huts, or are taught under trees when the weather permits, or have to walk multiple miles to a neighboring village, or can’t attend school at all.

Our methodology’s true power resides in the fact that buildOn classrooms are constructed in partnership with the very people who will be benefiting from them. buildOn provides the funding, engineering, materials, skilled labor and supervision.

The village provides a gender balanced leadership team, thousands of hours of unskilled volunteer labor and a promise that girls will attend the school in equal numbers with boys.

We are currently building schools in Haiti, Malawi, Mali, Nepal, Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, and Senegal.

buildOn’s School Building Methodology

The Covenant

8648418905_6ee56f2da6_bBefore a single brick is laid, buildOn requires that villages form a gender-equal Leadership Team for the construction project. A Covenant is then signed between buildOn and the community that outlines each party’s obligation–buildOn agrees to provide the engineering, materials, skilled labor and project supervision. The village contributes up to 3,000 volunteer work days and a promise to send girls to be educated in equal numbers as boys. After construction on the two or three-classroom school is complete, our staff continues to monitor and evaluate the school. After the school is fully populated and they have demonstrated their commitment to sending both boys and girls to school, we will build the same community a second school structure. This approach not only ensures the success of the school, but has in many cases illustrated to villages what can be accomplished by teamwork and equality.

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Gender Equality

Schools constructed by buildOn worldwide are designed to promote gender equality in countries with imbalances between the sexes.

In Malawi and Mali, girls are not traditionally educated, and there are few opportunities for adult women. In Nicaragua, the majority of individuals living in abject poverty are female. buildOn’s school building methodology validates the right of women to educate themselves and make decisions in their community.

Before construction, buildOn requires villages to elect a Leadership Team comprised of men and women. This team guides the school project, discussing the terms of the Covenant and determining how to provide the unskilled labor needed to build.

After the school is complete, the terms of the Covenant require the village to send boys and girls to school in equal numbers.

Right now, 49% of students in buildOn schools are female.

By building schools in Africa and elsewhere, buildOn has given women and girls in many rural villages their first opportunity to become educated and meaningfully contribute to their communities.

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“I no longer need to fingerprint my name. It makes me free.”

- Ndawala Banda, Father and buildOn Adult Literacy Program Graduate, Zumani Village, Mawali


Adult Literacy Program

Literacy is the foundation of buildOn’s comprehensive Adult Literacy Program, which provides schooling to the adults in rural villages.  Since 2000, 11,729 adults have completed the Adult Literacy Program, 70% of whom have been women. In addition to reading, writing, and basic math and numeracy, classes cover agricultural topics, sanitation and hygiene, and other issues relevant to local community development. Classes are taught by literate community members who are themselves trained by buildOn.

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