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close this bookTraining Human Settlement Workers in Eastern & Southern Africa (AFSC - Mazingira Institute, 1981)
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View the documentSkills training in Zambia

Skills training in Zambia

Dzithandizeni Trades School in Garden Compound Lusaka was founded in 1972 by the Local Ward Development Committee coordinated by the Community Development Officer. The school is today producing furniture and clothing of as high a quality as is commercially manufactured anywhere in Zambia. Its development should be seen in the overall history of Garden Compound, which started out as a typical unplanned and unserviced area.

The party representatives began organizing water supply when refused by the City Council in the late sixties. In 1974 the City proposed to move the Settlement further away from Lusaka to be replaced by light industry but this was resisted by the community. In 1977 the Housing Project Unit collaborated with the local party representatives to establish a Road Planning Group for upgrading of the area. This was chaired by the local Ward Councillor and Secretary and was active in planning the area and mobilizing Labour. The achievements of this collaboration include:

1. Creation of road planning groups in new site and service areas.
2. The community was able to call for Council meetings.
3. Control of planning done on paper without reference to community priorities.
4. Avoidance of simplistic clashes between community and bureaucratic interests by providing for rational discussion of plans and actions.

It was in this context that efforts to provide training in productive skills such as carpentry were started from within the community in the late seventies. Self-help efforts were inadequate to provide tools, and in 1979 a proposal was prepared for outside funding for a building, tools, equipment and training. The school raised initial funds from various international voluntary and non-governmental agencies particularly in Denmark, and also the Zambian Council for Social Development which coordinates non-government agencies in the country. In 1980 the school was built by school-leavers who became the first students in 1981. Production units in both tailoring and carpentry were started immediately and the school quickly became economically self-reliant, having a surplus after paying its running costs including the salaries of counterpart training staff appointed through the Danish and Dutch Volunteer Services.

Trainees go through an eighteen-month course including a period of employment. Functional rather than formal training is the principle used in the school; trainees learn different types of joint and assembly on objects that can be put to immediate use. Training staff develop new methods of making the most of local materials which can then be put into practice to produce the high quality goods coming from the production units. Private orders are taken by the production units for quality furniture and joinery fittings while tailoring orders are taken form larger factories where trainees can also go for in-service training and future employment. This means the school's trainees can find jobs and the output finds a market to make the operation economically self-sustaining.