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Vision Hope School Parabongo Challenge – can you help to build an eco-school?

Quick links: The Challenge | How to Enter | Key Dates | Prizes |  The Journey to Parabongo | Industry Supporters

Use your imagination just for a moment…

You are twelve years old.
A war breaks out and your loved ones are killed or taken away from you.
Your home and your school are destroyed.
Suddenly, you have no-one to depend on. No home to go to.
Even the care and security of your school has gone.

For hundreds of thousands of Ugandan children,
this is not imagination – this is a reality.
A 20-year civil war wreaked havoc for the village farming communities. Thousands of people lost their lives. Millions lost their homes. Schools were practically wiped out – especially in rural areas in the North.

Today Ugandan children are left with no real hope of the education that they so badly want and need.
Imagine you could change that for a whole community.

Imagine you had the chance to help design, engineer and construct a school for them… well now you can!

Meet our Parabongo Final Judges…

Michael Farragher - Judge

Michael Farragher

Mike is an Architect who graduated from LMJU in 1991 and was elected into RIBA in 1997. After 18 years in private practice, he moved into education and recently spent 18 months teaching Architecture and Architectural Technology in China at Henan University. While there he also designed a new Hope school in Guizhou Province.

He has worked in developing an orphanage and on slum development in Kampala, Uganda and is due to speak at a conference on the subject in Livingstone, Zambia this year. Mike continues to work in architecture for sustainability and the developing world, and organised the original site survey for the Vision Hope School in Parabongo, northern Uganda.

Sam Grindley - Judge

Sam Grindley

Sam Grindley is a Chartered Building Surveyor.

He has recently returned from West Africa where he acted as the Deputy Country Director for International Medical Corps, overseeing the operations at a number of Ebola Treatment Centres in Sierra Leone and Liberia throughout the epidemic.

Previously Sam worked for Plan International in Timor Leste and supported a WASH (Waste Sanitation and Hygiene) program which included improvements to remote schools.

Katie Cresswell-Maynard - Judge

Katie Cresswell

Katie is an Engineer who is currently head of learning, research and innovation at Engineers without Borders UK. She has been involved as a volunteer since 2006.

Previously she worked in the energy, cities and climate change sector informing policy makers about sustainable engineering interventions.

Alison Hall - Judge

Alison Hall

In 2007 Alison founded Seeds for Development, a charity working on economic empowerment and improved livelihoods in northern Uganda.

She is a highly experienced and successful marketing and business development professional in both large global and small dynamic organisations.

The Challenge – design an eco-school for Parabongo

We want you to create the Vision Hope School - a school Parabongo's community can be proud of.

The children of Parabongo, like you, deserve the best start in life. We’re asking UK secondary schools, universities and industry to work together to design an eco-school which will provide 1000 children, age 3-18, with a great place to learn.

The new Vision Hope School should provide 1000 children aged 3-18 with a great place to learn. It will teach lots of things… numeracy, literacy, STEM, basic life skills (e.g. washing your hands) and growing food. It will also reach out to the wider adult community so they can benefit too.

Parabongo life

Click the numbers below to read more about the challenge, then scroll down to register and find key dates.

Your school has until 25th September to pull together a great team and develop ideas into a great design

Up to 10 team members
10 professional roles
One great design for Vision Hope School

Putting your team together

Each team should have up to 10 members, with each student taking on a professional role or roles.

Each of the following disciplines needs to be represented:

Architect, Architectural Technologist, Structural Engineer, Civil Engineer, Building Services Engineer, Facilities Manager, Interior Designer, Landscape Architect, Project Manager & Quantity Surveyor.

A degree of guidance on these roles can be provided, especially from industry supporters, but we do want students to think about the project team and learn about these professions.

Sustainability & Accessibility

Students will need to demonstrate how, in each role and as a team, they have focused on sustainability and accessibility in their design for Vision Hope School.

There are some obstacles to overcome!

Uganda is not like the UK where we can source everything we need with a telephone call or a Google search.

The building materials that we take for granted are scarce in Uganda. Villagers make best use of the natural resources around them.

You may have ideas about which materials might be available, but some of them cause concerns for the villagers. Many have a fear of fire, which may immediately rule out some of your choices.

Head Teacher James talks about concerns surrounding some building materials

You’re going to need some help

Thankfully, there’s plenty around. Schools will be supported by design, engineering and construction professionals and will also have the support of university built environment students and teachers. As soon as you register, we’ll help to put you in touch.

What you need to deliver

We don’t want to be too prescriptive as we’d like to encourage teams to be innovative! However, there are a few things they absolutely must produce:

Drawings & 3D Model
5 minute filmed presentation
Team statement

Teams should present in any digital format they wish (e.g. PowerPoint, Prezi etc) and also have presentation boards and a design report. This should include each team member’s contribution across professional disciplines.

We’re not restricting the number of pages but something the length of a classic novel may not create the right impression.

Team Statement
In each presentation, teams should make reference to their vision as a design team – come up with a great name for their team and let judges know their mission in life.

Autodesk® Revit® Digital Model
We want teams to produce a 3D model of the school using some great software that’s free to all schools.

auto-desk-revit-2015We’re providing free training and support to teachers. You’ll be well prepared to enable your DT students to learn a fantastic skill that provides a great addition to the CV of any budding designer! And because the modelling software is free for students and teachers to use at home, there’s every reason to give it a go.  Access software here >

Revit® training dates are as follows:
25th June – London, 8th July – Newcastle, 10th July – Salford, 14th July – Bristol

Teachers: If you missed our sessions, please email and quote “REVIT HELP” in the subject header, and we’ll do our best to arrange local professional support.

Some options to make the presentation just a little more special

A physical scale model

Teams may also wish to make physical models of their product – we do like real models! They are a little more touchy feely and give those who might not have access to technology a chance to understand the design.

You might even like to use a 3D printer or laser cutter if your school is lucky enough to own one.

You can send photographs with your initial entry, but if you get to the semi finals, you might like to bring it with you – please do think about carriage.

Visualisation via technology

In our experience, young people and tech go hand in hand. Teams can produce working visualisations of their projects to support their presentation.


Got a question about Parabongo? Ask Ronald!

Parabongo Challenge Ask Ronald

If you need to ask a question which might help with your design, ask Ronald!

Ronald is our very friendly 13 year old question master and is excited to help. Thanks to a UK sponsor Ronald attends school in Kampala and speaks, reads and writes English. Assisted by Head Teacher James he will answer any questions you have about his life in Parabongo.

Simply fill in our form and they will get back to you with an answer as soon as they can.

Meet Ronald >

parabongo-registration-closedHow to enter

Each school should enter just one team of up to 10 members. This is an excellent opportunity to run a ‘Dragons Den’ event from which you can put your best team forward.

Voluntary entry fee
We are asking schools to contribute a voluntary donation of 50p per student in school to help raise funds to build the Vision Hope School. For example a school with a 1000 student population donates £500.

“Yes it’s voluntary but we’d really love you to support this big build!”

100% of the money raised will be donated to the Parabongo Vision Hope School project.

Registered schools

Additional information & key dates

Due to popular demand we are extending the deadline for competition entries to Friday 12th February 2016 at 12 noon!

15th April 2015
School registration opens

Revit® training dates:
June – Nov 2015

If you missed our sessions please email and quote “REVIT HELP” in the subject header, and we’ll do our best to arrange local professional support for your school.

Friday 12th February 2016, 12 noon – Online submission deadline
Friday 26th February 2016

One team from each of the following regions will be selected as finalists by our panel of expert judges:
1. Scotland, North West and Ireland
2. North East, Northern England, Midlands
3. Wales, South West, South East

Friday 4th March 2016
Final Judging

Monday 7th March
Winner & Runner-up notified

Monday 18th April 2016
Winning Team Arup Day


Work with the professionals
Monday 18th April 2016

The winning team will spend a day at the central London offices of the global engineering consultancy, Arup.

A team of experienced professionals will work with your team on your competition entry. They will talk to you about some of the projects they have worked on and help you to model your school in their IT suite using the best software packages in the industry.

Arup have been involved in some of the most exciting and challenging engineering projects all around the work including the Sydney Opera House, Kings Cross Station and the Aquatics Centre at London 2012

The journey to Parabongo

In 2007, just one year after the war ended, a small UK charity called Seeds for Development began working with very poor farmers and their families. Now supporting more than 1,600 farming families Seeds are helping them move towards a happier and more hopeful life where they eat regular meals, send their children to school, build new and safer homes and even set up businesses.

In the Summer of 2014, Class Of Your Own heard that Seeds were working tremendously hard to try and raise funds to build a new school in the village of Parabongo in Northern Uganda. The village, with a population of 3500, needs a school which will accommodate 1000 children and young people, but it was a task that they desperately needed help with. We said,

“Wouldn’t it be amazing if our school children could design a school for the children of Parabongo?”

After spending the last 9 months working with the fantastic people at Seeds, we’re hugely excited to be running a competition that may just get that school built.

Local Head Teachers James and George working collaboratively to set community ambitions for the Vision Hope School.

Thank you – we couldn’t do it without you!

Firstly, to Seeds for Development, whose integrity and sheer determination made it easy for us to make the Vision Hope School the focus of our challenge this year. You inspire us! Thank you for keeping the faith in COYO to get to this stage, and beyond.

Huge thanks for the tremendous support of dozens of professionals, university students and academics throughout the country who share our commitment to the project and are dedicating their spare time to support secondary school students in creating some extraordinary design projects.

Sincere gratitude to our corporate, academic and charitable partners in helping to make the Parabongo Challenge happen:

“Engineers Without Borders UK is proud to be working with COYO and Seeds for Development on this exciting project.  Through our work, we bring people, ideas and engineering together to find solutions to global challenges and the Vision Hope School Project is a great example of this.

We are really excited about our volunteers supporting participating schools with their ideas for the project as well as encouraging young people to recognise, and be inspired by, the links between engineering and sustainable human development.

Society needs generations of globally responsible engineers who can work collectively towards a world where everyone has the access to the engineering they need for a life free from poverty. The Vision Hope School Project is a great opportunity to inspire such generations as well as provide a place for the children of Parabongo to access that same opportunity in the future.”

“There’s an enormous skills shortage in the surveying profession, so it’s great that COYO has launched yet another fantastic project to allow pupils to experience and understand the diversity of great careers available to them in the built and natural environment, and hopefully, we’ll inspire the surveyors of the future.

Topcon is proud to support COYO in this fantastic humanitarian initiative.”

“Autodesk products allow our customers to imagine, design and create a better future. What better way to showcase this message, to the world, than having students use Autodesk technology to improve the lives of others? All students, educators and institutions, worldwide, are able to use Autodesk’s industry leading technology, for free. Which means that all entrants to this competition will have access to the latest industry leading tools.

The project is also showcasing the fantastic young talent in the UK where we’re advised, almost daily, on the skills gap. The Parabongo challenge is proving there is no shortage of skills in our youth, we just need to target them at the right industries and careers. The Parabongo challenge will direct the students to the construction industry by allowing them to work on something tangible, meaningful and fulfilling. I have no doubt that all entrants will be the future leaders of this industry.

From previous Class Of Your Own competitions it’s clear that the participants have no trouble in navigating the latest Autodesk world leading technology to create industrial quality results. We are absolutely delighted to be part of the project and are eagerly awaiting the, inevitably, inspiring outcomes. “

“A fantastic project which RICS is delighted to support and our members will be more than happy to help and build awareness of surveying in schools but more importantly help the children of Parabongo.”

“We’re always searching for ways to convey the sheer excitement of a career in construction engineering, and especially building services. This project – and the whole Design Engineer Construct concept – does exactly that. It shows how learning connects to life and gets young people involved in real life actions to create a better world. CIBSE is proud to be  a major sponsor.”

“The team at Digital Construction Week are extremely excited to be supporting COYO and the Vision Hope School Challenge and will be encouraging all of our partners and supporter to do the same.  The COYO programme is a fantastic platform for kids from across the country to show what they are capable of.  It’s a great way of getting bright young talent interested in design, construction, and engineering but it’s also an incredible showcase to those already in the industry as to what can be achieved.  In a digital context it’s exciting to see the type of passion and expertise we can expect to see coming in to our industry in years to come from a generation where analogue is a history lesson.

We are also really pleased to be supporting Seeds of Development as our official charity partner and will be raising money through the event series to help with the incredible work they are doing.  Through our events we’ll be looking to discuss challenges of education, diversity and skills in UK construction and how we can make things better.  It’s humbling to think that many don’t have the benefit of an education or place to learn and develop at all.  What is fantastic about this project is that it allows us as an industry to lend our skills and expertise rather than just our concern.  We’re very much looking forward to helping to make a difference and supporting Seeds of Development in any way we can.”

“LJMU is delighted to partner with COYO on this exciting project. It allows us to highlight the impact that built environment professionals can make to society and the environment. Our academic staff will be assisting the schools project by supporting the competition with design advice and guidance and by delivering structured webinar sessions to help the school pupils develop their design and sustainability skills. The chance to work with so many schools in the UK in developing a  project that has such huge benefits to the community of Parabongo is fantastic.

The Faculty of Technology and the Environment of which the School of the Built Environment is part of has a number of disciplines that can benefit the competition. A member of the school of the Built Environment has visited Parabongo and met with the locals who will be using the school and the teachers who will be teaching there. It has been highlighted that a number of logistical issues are present that need multiple disciplines such as Construction Management, Architectural Technology and Environmental Sciences to have an input in briefing the multiple schools that will be involved.

This sort of collaboration allows us to benefit the community of Parabongo, enrich the experience of those participating in the Schools that take part and raise the profile of built environment disciplines at the same time as benefitting our own students. It aligns well with mission of LJMU as a modern civic university.”

“There is a designer in every child. Children have the capacity to solve some of the world’s challenges just by using their creativity and design skills. This creative spirit and natural ability to work in a team gives each and every one of them an amazing opportunity to impact the world around them.

The Parabongo Challenge provides children with a genuine chance to change lives and in doing so, learn some real life lessons about the role of design in a country where social, economic and environmental sustainability is a way of life. As an organisation with a long history of celebrating excellence in Design and Technology education, the Design and Technology Association is proud to support this worthwhile competition.”

Richard Green, Chief Executive, Design and Technology Association


Alison Hall Seeds for Development

Alison Hall – Founder

“I am quite overwhelmed and am not sure how to begin to thank Class of Your Own. To thank you for your support of our work is trite and easy to say. I am trying to find the words that will help your supporters understand what they are doing in this little corner of Uganda that has been forgotten by the world, a little corner of Uganda that has suffered such devastation and destruction words cannot do it justice.

Between 1998 and 2008 around 2 million people were forced from their homes to live in Internally Displaced People’s camps. This was because of the war that raged between The Lord’s Resistance Army and the Ugandan Army.  These people left behind homes, businesses, farms, schools – everything they had. Schools shut down and a whole generation lost their education. But the people of northern Uganda are strong, resilient, hopeful and utterly amazing. I met them in 2008 when they were still in the camps and since then, in our small way, Seeds for Development has worked with them as they rebuild their lives, overcome their grief and come to terms with their loss.

Over the years we have sat down and prioritised their needs and how we can help support them.  We worked with James and the primary school in the video with the children singing (James is the teacher getting them to sing!) to introduce lessons where the children learn how to grow food to feed their families (children do not eat during the day) and then he was moved to another village school up on the border with South Sudan. I asked James what he would do – thinking he would be disheartened about being moved from his family and community. His response was immediate and heart felt – “Alison, we will build our own school. A school built on our values to educate the children to become exemplary citizens of the future.  We shall call our school Vision Hope because the people have a vision but they have no hope to make their vision a reality”.

Since then we have, in our own way (remember we are a very small charity!) worked to help him accomplish the community’s dream – to build the community they wish to be. We know it is a massive project, well beyond anything we have done or can do and I have struggled and spent many sleepless nights thinking about how we can do this.  The people of Parabongo have no such qualms and stormed ahead.  They built a temporary building to start a nursery school and we now have 152 tiny children at the school.  They are learning to talk and sing in English (like in the video) but they have no toilets, no water, no kitchen and no blackboard.

We can, and will, make the temporary nursery school fit for purpose but there our solutions came to a stop. Now with your project we can hope that the vision comes true.  If schools, universities and business come together with your guidance we will transform a community. Our school will be a beacon of hope shining out to all the people of northern Uganda who have suffered so much giving them a belief in their own future and that of their children.

With love, gratitude and a big Afwoyo matek – thank you very much – from them and from us.”

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COYO is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff, and others providing services on behalf of COYO, to share this commitment

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