Contracts and Agreements

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There is no excuse for not having foresight about potential issues and emergencies that could affect the progress of your bottle school project. It is your responsibility to think of what could happen in a “worst case” scenario, and to seek advice from many sources on potential issues, and how best to avoid them.
 
Accountability
 
It’s important to be clear who has responsibility for each specific element of the bottle school project. Who holds that person accountable?
What system of checks and balances is in place?
Some questions to think about include:
 
  • • Who is responsible for getting enough bottles collected and eco-bricks made?
  • • Who has access to the project bank account, and who manages the funds? Who oversees that person and holds them accountable?
  • • Who is responsible for ensuring that masons work the agreed hours and make progress fast enough?
  • • Who pays the mason? What happens if the project takes longer than planned?
  • • Who is responsible for ensuring that each community member contributes the required hours of unskilled labor?
  • • Who is responsible for buying materials?
  • • Who is responsible for receiving materials, and who is in charge of looking after materials?
  • • What happens if funds or materials go “missing”?

Agreements
 
It is important to sign an agreement or contract with all of the project participants, clearly stating each personal and institutional responsibility in the execution of the project planning, design, build, and beyond. We can’t stress enough the importance of getting agreements in writing. The more formal the process, the better. The formality will signal to all parties the seriousness of the commitment that they are entering into. Take your time to
get the wording of agreements correct, and to get the contracts signed by all parties, even if it takes longer than you would like.

Contracts need to written clearly and correctly, with terms clearly laid out. Also make it clear what will happen if the terms are broken for any reason. Some agreements to consider as a starting point are:
 
  • • An agreement with the municipality stating the amount of all donated materials, labor and funds that they promise to contribute to the project
  • • An agreement with the Ministry of Education (or other relevant body) that teachers will be provided for the future bottle school
  • • An agreement with the owner of the land that the school will be built on (if applicable)
  • • An agreement with the masons constructing
    the school to avoid any confusion with expectations, including start date, finish date, pay, working hours, and holidays
  • • An agreement with a representative of the community, a Parent Teacher Association or other connected group outlining their responsibilities concerning bottle collection and the donation of unskilled labor by community members

As the facilitator, you should clearly outline your responsibilities in writing as well. Hold yourself accountable to the community, and vice versa.
 
Ensure that all participants in the bottle school project have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities, and are committed to fulfilling them. Signatures are a must, and stamps with official insignia are always a plus.
If something goes wrong despite your best preparations, foresight and seeking advice, there is a chance that something might go wrong during the progress of your bottle school project. It’s important to have foresight as well about what to do if something does go wrong. Do you have a Plan B? How about a Plan C and D? The most important thing to do is not to panic. By reacting too fast and trying to fix things that perhaps can not easily be fixed it is easy to make situations worse rather than better. But don’t move too slow, sitting on a setback can potentially evolve the situation into a crisis: be calm and move forward, treating the incident as an opportunity for learning and growth. But don’t move too slowly either, now more than ever, it is vital that you seek advice on how best to move forward from trusted colleagues, community members, advisors, mentors and friends.


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