Swinburne apprentices help build new school in India

Tuesday 17 February 2015

A team of advanced building, carpentry and plumbing apprentices from Swinburne’s Croydon campus has returned from India where they have been helping build a school and improve the lives of students and their teachers in a remote community.

The seven apprentices and their academic supervisor, Jon Wallace, from Swinburne’s Centre for Engineering, Technology and Trades, travelled to the remote village of Jamnya, to help construct new school facilities.

A lack of adequate and permanent accommodation in the village had discouraged female teachers from moving to the area as it was unsafe to live alone and there was insufficient space to accommodate families.

The Swinburne team worked with the Melbourne-based Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (CERES) and India-based Satpura Vikas Mandal to build new accommodation for teachers and their families.

“When we arrived a group of local workers had already completed the foundations for the teacher’s living quarters and had begun producing compressed stabilised earth blocks using a combination of local soil, sand and cement,” Mr Wallace said.

“The apprentices along with local workers laid around 3,000 of these blocks, as well as installing windows and doors and preparing for sanitary and electrical requirements.

“We spent two weeks working at the Jamnya school where we lived alongside the students, teachers and local skilled labourers.

“The result is a new building to house the teachers that is well on the way to completion and a local team of workers skilled in compressed stabilised earth block production and construction.”

The new teacher’s quarters will include hygienic household water management and effluent treatment systems, and incorporate small scale renewable energy systems to provide a consistent, reliable source of power for lighting, heating and cooking.

Mr Wallace said the work would continue with the goal to have the building ready for habitation before the monsoon season arrives later in the year.

The apprentices made the trip as part of the Federal Government’s AsiaBound program. The AsiaBound program provides enhanced financial support for Australian students to participate in a study experience in Asia.

Many of the AsiaBound programs are designed to give Swinburne students an opportunity to make a real impact on communities in India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and other nations.

“The students who benefit from these AsiaBound grants, whether they are going abroad for the first time or not, will come back with new skills, a broader outlook, new networks and a vibrant sense of the incredible diversity, and energy of the countries they visit,” Mr Wallace said.

Swinburne VE students at the Taj Mahal

When they were in India the Swinburne team also had the opportunity to travel to Agra to visit one of the most famous buildings in the world, the Taj Mahal.

The team included carpentry apprentices Thomas Anthony, Patrick Beraun, Daniel Beyer, Jayden Humphris, Kai Moody, plumbing apprentice Daniel Howard and advanced building student Adam Newman.