In August 2014, the Boston Professional Engineers Without Borders Chapter began working in the community of Mkutani on a potable water supply project. While the project team was performing assessment for a water supply project, the community expressed an urgent need for a new schoolhouse. Mkutani’s community school serves approximately 800 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. Currently, most of the village’s school children attend a six-classroom building complex. This deteriorated complex is not large enough to accommodate the growing student population and is not a structurally safe environment for learning. Tanzania’s abolition of fees in primary schools in 2001 coupled with the nation’s compulsory requirement that parents and guardians send all children to school has resulted in the rapid increase in the number of children attending school. Though this has resulted in the mushrooming of classroom sizes, the infrastructure to support these students has not grown accordingly.
Through the collaboration of Harvard University EWB, Boston Professional EWB, and the Mkutani community, the chapters plan to construct larger schoolhouses, build residential facilities for some of the faculty, and design and implement a sanitary latrine system both for students and teaching staff. Through the construction of larger schoolhouse facilities, the project would allow the school to meet the spatial demands of its growing student body. Additionally, the residential facilities would provide teachers (who currently do not have adequate housing) with sufficient housing that will allow them to live safely and dedicate more time and efforts to the community’s school system. Most importantly, with the guidance of professional civil and structural engineers, the project will provide students of the community with a sustainable, durable, safe, and structurally sound environment for learning.
The Harvard College Engineers Without Borders Chapter is preparing for its first implementation trip in July/August of 2017. The members of the Mkutani Project will be traveling to the community to build the first two banks of latrines and one to three teachers' residences. Because the Tanzanian government unexpectedly started construction on a new schoolhouse, the Harvard Chapter is focusing its efforts on sanitary latrine facilities for the students and comfortable, safe housing for the school’s teachers.