Why not to build a Bottle School

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Although bottle schools can be a great solution for many different communities around the world, this does not mean that they are appropriate in every situation. Below are some of the reasons why it may not be appropriate to build a bottle school in some communities.

No need for a school

It might sound obvious, but it would be a big mistake to go into a community as an outsider and say “These people need a school.” Perceptions with “western” eyes can be very different from the reality of what people truly need: maybe there is something else they need a lot more than a bottle school. Ask them. The demand has to be led by the community, not by outsiders. There may be other needs in the community that are more pressing than a bottle school.

No teachers

A school is not much use without teachers! You will need to ensure that there is a commitment from the Ministry of Education, or other appropriate body, to provide suitably qualified teachers for an indefinite period after the school is completed.

No community buy-in or commitment

This is a very important aspect of a bottle school project. It takes thousands of person- hours to collect and stuff all the bottles needed to build a bottle school, and provide the labor needed to construct the school. Local customs and traditions may dictate that things are done in certain ways; respect them. If the community is suspicious of the project or the people working on it, and does not embrace the project fully, it will not be a success.

No one to oversee the project

A bottle school project, as outlined in this manual, takes a

minimum of six months from start to finish, from bottle collection and stuffing to completion and inauguration. A committed, hardworking individual (you?) who is known and respected by the community is needed to push the project forward, working hand in hand with community leaders, engineers and the lead mason, among many other participants.
 
No skilled mason available
 
Building a bottle school is not difficult, but it is certainly not something that a layman without construction experience could do. This manual is not going to teach you how to create concrete columns using forms, or how to mix or apply cement. An experienced mason, preferably one who is known in the community, is needed to lead the team of workers.
 
No plastic bottles or trash
 
If there are no plastic bottles and other trash around, you won’t be able to build a bottle school. This may be the case in communities that do not use a lot of plastic bottles, or where effective trash collection services exist. In these cases it may be more beneficial to use other natural resources for building (eg. bamboo, earthbags, adobe) or to use more traditional construction methods.
 
Availability of other building methods
 
There are lots of other innovative, as well as traditional models to build schools using available natural resources. These sorts of buildings may not be as durable as bottle schools, but this may not be a significant issue in a community which is not at risk of extreme weather conditions. Bottle schools built to Hug It Forward specifications are designed to comply with international building codes with regard to their durability under stressful situations such as earthquakes; this may not be an issue in the area in which you are working.

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