To be successful, bottle school projects require both strong leadership and universal participation. To get the most out of the process, involve all of the community, and use the process as an opportunity for bringing people together and sharing skills.


The project facilitator, the person initiating the project, will need to work side-by-side with trusted community leaders. You may find that one outstanding leader who is passionate, organized, effective, and well-liked will be able to bring the entire community together. The leader may be a school principal, member of the PTA, local
government representative, a respected elder in the community, or any other suitable person. In some communities, you may not be able to work with one leader, and it may be necessary to form a committee to manage political, religious, or familial differences. This committee can act as a constant reminder to the community of the greater goal: to complete the school for the benefit of their children and future generations. With this constant reminder throughout the process, differences can be more effectively resolved. These leaders are the key to a successful project. They know every facet of resource availability and cultural norms, and understand the social fabric of their communities. This knowledge will allow them to troubleshoot potential complications and ensure proper planning, design, participation and execution of the build.

Community Involvement

Clear and open communication between the project facilitator, leaders and the community members will go a long way to keeping everyone on the same page, and conscious of their individual

responsibilities regarding the project. Community meetings may seem difficult and time-consuming, especially before the construction begins, but communicating any and all concerns and coming to a consensus on distribution of labor and individual responsibility will help the build run smoothly.


Always involve teachers and school directors in the project development and execution. They will be a huge help in organizing the force of the students to collect trash. Moreover, they will have key insights into the needs of the classrooms, thus affecting the building design and layout. If the school is new or without teachers, ensure that there is a plan in place to hire teachers for the school. A school is not much use without qualified teachers to teach in the new building! The most usual way to obtain funding for teachers is through government approval, certification and funding. Another option is that the community as a whole will agree to contribute to the cost of hiring a teacher, or that volunteer teachers will come forward from within the community.

Sharing Skills

There is a great opportunity within the bottle school project for the exchange of skills. Facilitators will be able to share project design and development skills, while the counterpart leaders of the community will ensure the success of the project by exercising their communication and community organization skills. Manual labor unites all involved, and gives volunteering members of the community a chance to learn construction skills from skilled masons.