Mohit Agrawal ’11
Ghana School Library Initiative Implementation Trip
As the Ghanaian economy shifts from secondary to tertiary industry, strong English and computer skills will be in high demand. Ghana’s education system, though, fails to provide many children with a solid grasp of these skills. Engineers Without Borders (EWB)-Princeton believes that it can help address this need with sustainable partnership with local groups.
EWB–Princeton has partnered with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church to build a library at their school in Ashaiman; the library will serve both students and the local community. Last summer, I was the project manager among a team of four Princeton students who built the first portion of the library; the entire building will be done next year. The library will have 3000 books, many donated and shipped from the United States. The library will also include a computer lab with a shared internet connection.
EWB–Princeton is committed to environmental sustainability. For example, the walls of the library are constructed from landcrete blocks. Landcrete blocks, made mostly of the clay-like material laterite, dramatically lower the carbon emissions related to building construction when used in place of concrete blocks. We have also used pozzolana ash to substitute for one-third of our cement, and we are actively researching how to modify a shipping container to make our roof.
EWB-Princeton will hand off the library to its local partner once construction is completed and the books and computers are provided. This incentivizes the local partner to make the project economically sustainable–that is, make sure that the library pays for itself. Each local partner will have different ideas on how to pursue this goal; the EP Church plans to charge visitors to access the internet and will offer computer classes for certain fees. Once the library is completed in Ashaiman, EWB-Princeton plans to build a second structure elsewhere with another local partner.
Engineers Without Borders, Ashaiman, Ghana.