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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  18 Jul 2011

EDUCATION: Cornell Univeristy and Partners Create New ECD Centre


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Cornell University Sustainable Design (CUSD): Schoolhouse South Africa hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre and Teacher Training Facility currently under construction by CUSD volunteer students in Cosmo City, Johannesburg. Approximately 29 students from Cornell University Sustainable Design have travelled to Johannesburg to construct the socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ECD Centre together with local workers, community members and skilled craftsmen. The Centre, which will accommodate 80 children, will also house a Teacher Training Facility to improve the quality of education in preschools throughout the community.

Schoolhouse South Africa is a partnership between CUSD, Education Africa (a Johannesburg-based non-profit organisation working throughout Africa to alleviate poverty through educational development programmes), Play-With-a-Purpose (a nationally regarded and internationally trained ECD curriculum development organisation), and the City of Johannesburg.

Partners and supporters attended the groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the project's development. The ceremony was opened by Reverend Marumo of Cosmo City Methodist Church, followed by a series of keynote speakers including Jesse McElwain, publicity and media director of CUSD; Vic Ventor, regional manager at Builders Warehouse; Tiann Ehlers from the City of Johannesburg; Des Hughes, managing director of Basil Read Developments; project director Barry Beagen (Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University ’11); and James Urdang, founder and executive director of Education Africa. The speakers addressed those who have helped make the project possible and presented the first steps in building Cosmo City's first official ECD Centre and Teacher Training Facility. After a ceremonial turf-turning, attendees spoke with students and colleagues about the project and the potential for student involvement in sustainable development throughout South Africa.

Basil Read, the developer of Cosmo City, has offered professional and operational assistance throughout the design and construction process, and has provided logistical support to CUSD. The company has also acted as an intermediary between students and South African stakeholders and suppliers, and has played an active role in fundraising on the project’s behalf. “We are astounded by the generosity of those who we approached to support this project. Target Cranes offered the free use of a crane for four days, which would normally cost approximately R400 000; Spiral Engineering will erect the steelwork and fabrication for R30 000, valued at R150 000; Saint Gobain provided all the dry wall and ceiling materials as well as 20 craftsmen to erect these structures; Hilti donated battery operated power tools and fixing material to the value of R65 000, which Education Africa is able to keep for use on other projects; Jambo Security is providing a day and night guard during construction; Chubb Security has donated a full alarm system and security for R1 a month for 12 months; and a local plumber and electrician are volunteering their services in kind,” says Basil Read Developments project manager Robin Siebert. Basil Read also contributed R100 000 from their CSI budget towards the construction of the Centre.

The project is generously sponsored by African Olive Concepts, AfriSam, Builders Warehouse, Duro Pressings, and TetraTech (USA). Major donors include Development Consulting, Govender’s Aluminium and Glass, Green Power, Hydromulch, Infraset, Investec Properties, Mekan Engineering Services, Metrofile, Sabvest, Set Point Group, and Water Rhapsody.

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