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School in a Box

Providing a 'How to' kit for people living in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe, to build a safe environment for young children to learn, grow and develop life skills. A space designed by the community, for the community.

Photo of Jonathan Joanes
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Zimbabwe’s education system, once regarded as one of the finest on the continent, was a casualty of the country’s economic meltdown. The government funds recognised official establishments of schools, however, the more distant and isolated villages do not get any support.

Education in Zimbabwe starts when children become six years old. Very few children are exposed to pre-schools and the government only funds official establishments.

We envisage villages and communities to unite and build Shiri houses for young children aged 0-5 years. These houses will form a hub within the community where children can learn, grow and develop life skills. Parents and volunteers from organisations would lead educational sessions.

We would like to provide essential building kits to remote and isolated villages such as Chinhoyi in Zimbabwe. This kit will provide essential materials and tools for the local residents to build a sheltered structure, together with any locally sourced materials available. An illustrated guide will also be included in the kit for the community to follow.

  • Hammer
  • Axe
  • Tenon Saw
  • Nails
  • Rope String
  • Bags
  • Illustrated Construction Guide
  • Potential Curriculum


0-2 years: Interaction with parents, playing to encourage story telling and sharing.
3 years: Stimulating the cognitive mind using available materials and activities such as sand, water, clay, gardening, games, shapes, colours etc.
4-5 years: Using books, stories, and discussions to prepare the children for primary school.

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

We are reaching out to remote villages in Zimbabwe that do not get support from the government. We want children under the age of 6 years to attend a ‘pre-school’, which will act as a platform for when they start primary education.

Parents in the community can host classes and creative sessions to teach groups of children fundamental skills.

The Shiri House will also be used as a storage facility for learning materials. Books, pencils, blackboards and other educational tools can be preserved if there is a secure place to store them.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

Shiri House Hackathon! We propose to have events to invite members of the public and volunteers from organisations such as Educate Zimbabwe’s Children to build their own Shiri house using locally sourced materials with basic tools. By observing these events, we can gain valuable insights into how easy/difficult the structures are to build for people that have no concept of them, and what are the necessary tools to achieve this.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

We would make our idea real by linking up with the organisations and sponsors who come forward to make our project from just a concept to reality.
The following organisation is collaboration of Zimbabwe and UK which works for children education project. This organisation can help us to a certain level in education & scholarship sectors.
The following organisation works for protection and promotion of well being of vulnerable children and assist them to become self reliant & a responsible citizen. They also closely worked previously with UNICEF,
World education children, Catholic relief services, Action aid
Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) etc. This organisation can definitely do justice to our project and take children to a better place with there rights & opportunities in future.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am looking for partners that might be interested in taking this idea forward in their communities.


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Photo of Kyren Whymes

This is a great idea. I think this will be relatively easy to launch and maintain, especially after a few schools are set up as they can help others with their own learning environments.

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