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Help Make A Difference

11 October, 2017

We have a saying at Project   Build, that “we get up in the morning to build schools”.  This is our passion, our lives revolve around it.

Fortunately we live in a society which recognizes that the Government cannot provide education without the material assistance of private donors and social investors.   The education sector of the donor environment in South Africa is massive, well in the order of 8 billion rand per year !   My remarks will concentrate on physical infrastructure investment, the development of classrooms and ancillary buildings given that this is the mandate of Project Build.


Project Build has been developing school infrastructure for 40 years and would like to do this for many years to come.  In these years we have built close to 6000 classrooms benefitting hundreds of thousands of young people and educators.  My reason for extrapolating this into such a vast number of beneficiaries is the secondary point our want to make in this article that for the social investors making this type of  investment is a true legacy and a blessing for many years ahead for the school involved.   We visit schools for our 2nd 3rd 4th intervention and see buildings that we built perhaps 20 or so years ago when we still traded as Urban Foundation and then as Natal School Project.  And because of the success of the first buildings we are welcomed with open arms, it is a true celebration when Project Build arrives.


But here’s the thing, we cannot do it alone we need our social investment partners, our donors to join us.   The value of brick and mortar classrooms in schools  is well recorded.    Mr Moses Mogambery formerly a Chief Education Specialist for Curriculum (Grades 10-12), Dept of Education KZN, Pinetown District, makes this point strongly in his referenced article headed School Infrastructure  and Education Incomes printed in the 2012 Annual Review of Project Build.   He makes reference to 3 studies which bear this out.     A report entitled  “Do K-12 School Facilities Affect  Education Outcomes ?” authored by Ed Young (2003),  This report makes the point that there is growing evidence of a correlations between  the adequacy of a school facility and student behaviour and performance.  Mogambery  sites two other reports which make similar claims.  “ The Impact of School Infrastructure on Student Outcomes and Behaviour “by Dr Kenn Fisher  revealed e.g.

Student academic achievement improves with improved building conditions.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)(2006) found that the quality of school infrastructure significantly influences the learning of Latin American and Caribbean students.

Mogambery’s articles carries on to make the case here in South Africa on how good infrastructure improves performance and poor infrastructure impedes performance .

These studies are important as are the remarks of Mr Hugh Bulcock Senior Manager Infrastructure Planning – Dept of Education KZN in an article he wrote which appears in the Project Build 2015 Review “Pre 1994. Resourceful rural communities, out of desperation, resorted to building schools with rudimentary facilities, with meagre means at their disposal.  Amidst this background of deprivation, communities have for the past 38 years looked beyond the confines of the establishment for assistance and have found a willing partner in their endeavours through Project Build and its forebears, the Urban Foundation and Natal Schools Project.  The contribution of Project Build in providing in excess of 5300 classrooms in KwaZulu-Natal over this period is an achievement that cannot be overstated.”   He says too that “the Kwazulu-Natal Department of Education is eternally grateful and needs to continue the relationship with Project Build if it wishes to make significant inroads in the abovementioned backlogs”

The Hon. MEC for Education Mr Mthandeni Dlungwana continues this theme in his message of support which appears in our 40th Anniversary Review.  I quote “ An important goal of the National

Development Plan is to provide every school with the physical infrastructure and an environment that inspires learners to want to come to school and learn and for teachers to teach”.   He adds “Project Build’s sustained contribution to education is especially commendable as the number of classrooms stands at over 6000.  That there is a relationship between the physical environment where learners are taught and the effectiveness of teaching that cannot be doubted”


So we at Project Build find ourselves in a very specific niche as an NGO, in building classrooms.

We invite you to talk to us, to partner with us,  to help make a difference literally to the future of our Country.  It is a social investment that will bear fruit and of which you will be proud for decades to come.  Phone me on 0313075322 or will also reach me.


Suzanne Edmunds



CEO Suzanne Edmunds


Social Responsibility in South Africa

6 March, 2017
Suzanne Edmunds CEO

Suzanne Edmunds CEO

I have recently come back from a holiday outside South Africa where I had some interesting discussions with ex-South Africans, who are in my opinion always ready to attack and criticise our lives here in order to defend their decision to emigrate. You all know what I mean ! Whenever I come across this it is my pleasure to highlight the good stuff that is happening here at home.
One of the areas I like to talk about is the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSI)scene.
Are South African corporates generous or are they guided by the brilliant DTI score card to which we report ? It doesn’t really matter, the point is that Corporates have responded so well to this imperative that today we have hundreds of Corporates feeding into a multi billion rand sector – the support of the vulnerable in our society. Support for education, where Project Build operates, alone is reputed to be R2billion.
As the person at Project Build who is responsible for income development it is a constant joy for me to sit down with the people who make up this sector. Whether is it with the professionals who man the CSI departments of the large organizations or simply people who care who might be running an NGO or a member of a service organization like Rotary International I have such respect for the work done.
Just this week I have had three memorable meetings with such people who are looking to collaborate with Project Build. One meeting was about upgrades to a school, another was an upgrade to a transitional house for students. The third was quite different, it concerned creating an environment with the Department of Education for Women’s empowerment. At each meeting the passion and caring for others was the motivating factor. These are not isolated meetings, but meetings I regularly have with people in the CSI sector. It makes me feel so Proudly South African .
I cannot finish this blog without highlighting the role of the DTI Scorecard. The Government has got this so right. Companies who need to trade with the government or trade with companies who trade with the government need to meet the requirements of the scorecard. A large professional industry has grown around this, all to the benefit of the society in which we live.
I love to watch the expression on the faces of my expat friends when I show them the details and success of this CSI sector.

Our 40th Anniversary.

21 October, 2016

I was thrilled when I realised that 2017 will be the 40th Anniversary of Project Build Trust. In that time we have built approximately 6000 classrooms and benefitted some 160,000 learners. For interest we have trained close to 50 builders to manage their own smme enterprises. In addition many suppliers have grown as a result of good regular business with Project Build. And equally important with the help of our builders we train an estimated 150 community members each year in building skills. In recent years we have welcomed a large number of students for their in service training – about 15 pa. Not too many entities can lay claim to 40 years of successfully carrying out their mandate!

We want to celebrate! We are planning a bumper edition of our review. A special event to which stakeholders will be invited is going to take place. Watch our social media! And most important it will be the year where we will build build build so that all our friends and associates will benefit along with learners and educators.

Some background. In 1977 the Urban Foundation started a classroom building division. In 1994 an independent Trust – Natal Schools Project Trust – was formed. This was rebranded in 2010 to Project Build Trust.

Over the years we have had major successes, we have had our challenges. Through it all The Project Trust Team, the employees and the Trustees have pulled together to make sure we never missed a step. And this is how we plan on going forward!

Suzanne Edmunds CEO

Relationship Building

6 July, 2016

Relationships are the building blocks for Project Build Trust’s activities.
Because all relationships we have with the communities we serve are the means for achieving our goals, it is our caring for others that motivates us to work as hard as we do. It is also the people who motivate us to reach our goals
Through continuous support from Tongatt Hullet we have been able to create such a relationship with the community of Mvuzane under Inkosi Biyela’s leadership. Inkosi Biyela has assured us that our working in the area is appreciated and welcome by all, that way Project Build Staff , the builder and his team will always be taken care of when working in the area.
In the pictures below, Project Build Trust was handing over to Mvuzane Tribal Court toilets donated by Tongatt Hullet.

 Inkosi Biyela and Mvuzane Tribal Court CommitteeInkosi Biyela and Mr Biyela (PBT Builder)

Education for Special Needs Learners

5 July, 2016

Suzanne EdmundsWatching the destruction of schools this year and reading the comprehensive report “The right to basic education” published in Sangonet 12th May 2016 which reports on the burning of schools in Vuwani Limpopo during this past year there is a single thought that goes through my head:
What about learners who can’t attend schools because there are none that are suitable!
In the last few years Project Build has been fortunate enough to raise funds to do extensive building at schools for learners with very special needs. It has sensitized me to how few dedicated schools are available for these young learners. I have also learned what infrastructure is most suitable.
I searched the internet to find articles which have relevance. I found articles on the issue of inclusive education – schools where children with special needs are absorbed into the mainstream. There are interesting credible academic papers founded on good research which support this concept as the way to go. The need for dedicated schools is ignored in the current articles. (see S. Afr. J. educ. Vol. 34n.2 Pretoria Jun.2014. The Challenges of Realizing Inclusive education in South Africa. D Dononhue and J Bornman)
I am not an educator, I lead a specialized building NGO so I would not consider commentating on inclusive education except from a view of physically accommodating learners with special needs. This is our field of expertise.
When building for special need learners so much is different from mainstream. One can certainly not accommodate these special people in classes where there are anything from 50 to 70 learners in a class and one teacher per class. It has nothing to do with intellect but how can children with speech and hearing or sight difficulties can ever hope to get enough attention from the educator that is needed. Can you imagine a stressed educator whose resources are already stretched dealing with these needs.. Specialist therapy rooms are needed to accommodate social workers, occupational therapists, speech and hearing therapists and physiotherapists . The classrooms need to be large for wheelchairs and other aids, sometimes with special toilets and ablution facilities. And yes, different does often mean intellectually challenged though not necessarily.
There needs to be special exercise equipment in adequate playgrounds. And yes, hostel facilities. Many of the learners come from very far distances. And this in a way is the very nub of the problem.
There are relatively few specially designed schools and educators with specialist training, I’m not sure if there are specialist therapy posts. But when I talk to my anecdotal sources I learn of the shortage of schools dedicated to special needs, or if there are schools the specialist facilities are lacking. However it is reported in of November 2015 author More Matshediso that there 453 special schools in SA and 18 under construction. The report closes with a quote from Thenjiwe Ndebele in her capacity as the Chairperson of Self Advocates from Down Syndrome SA. She pleads that all children with disabilities be given access to education so that they can earn a bit of independence “I may have a disability but I have many abilities. We matter. Education is important to us” said Ndebele
Every year on MANDELA DAY , Project Build takes corporate volunteers to a school to beautify the buildings. It takes a lot of planning but worth every resource we put into the event. This year we have chosen a school with special needs. It is a school we have built at before. It is a school with a dedicated curriculum and wonderful educators helping young people who would otherwise languish at home hardly attended to, take their productive place in society. Once we have left the school on that day it will look really nice. A place that will lift the morale of educators, learners and parents.

So again I ask myself, is it fair that schools are being burnt when there are so many school age children who cannot access what the constitution of the country guarantees – an education. We will dedicate our MANDELA DAY to these young people.


Staff Profile of Dumisile Ndlovu

30 June, 2016
Quantities Clerk / Store Keeper

Quantities Clerk / Store Keeper

I am Dumsile Ndlovu, from Msinga (Tugela Ferry, North of KwaZulu Natal). I was born and raised in this area. I attended both my primary and secondary schooling in the area.
After finishing Matric, I enrolled for Civil Engineering Diploma at Coastal KZN FET College (Swinton Campus). Upon completing level N6, I spent the whole year at home applying for In-service training but there was no luck in finding a company that will train me.
One day in July 2010 while I was at home I noticed that there was an infrastructure development activity taking place at the Zizi Primary School (A school next to my house). When teachers and learners left school, I went to the builder who was working there. I enquired about the project; he told me the name of the company was Project Build Trust. I told him my story and he advised that I take down the office numbers and call the office the following day. The builder told me that I must not be scared because people at the office are very approachable they will listen to me and perhaps help. I copied Project Build Trust contact details from the sign board, the following day I called the Project Build Trust. Suzanne said that I must fax my resume. In August I was called for an interview which was a success. In August again I started in-service training with PBT which ended in February 2012. I left the organisation armed with a variety of skills that were required by most employers, but unfortunately there were no jobs available.
Until 25 June 2012, I received the call from Project Build Trust requesting me to come to the office as there was something that the management wanted to discuss with me. It was a permanent position, my hard work, dedication and willingness to learn during my in-service training days paid off.
From that day I never looked back, I value the role played by this organisation in my life. I call it HOME, I have been with this organisation for 5 years and 6 months. My intention is to serve the organisation to my level best, that way I am contributing to “The Building of healthy communities”
I enjoy my work, there is sense of belonging, and the spirit of UBUNTU is modelled everyday.

Workplace Traning for our Builders Children

27 June, 2016

Nkosinathi  & LondiweAt the core of Project Build Trust business is effective management of relationships. The organisation has created healthy successful relationships with our different builders in the Province of Kwa Zulu Natal. These are builders who ensure that the organisation is able to deliver excellent infrastructure to beneficiaries and can attract funding to continue building for communities in need.
Apart from providing workplace training opportunities for learning and advancement for Durban University of Technology students, the organisation has started providing similar assistance to (our) builder’s children. The organization has an interest in seeing them reach their potential and entering tertiary education institutions.
(Left)Nkosinathi, is Mr Mhlongo’s son. He is currently doing final year civil engineering; he has written “My father has been with Project Build Trust for the past 20 years, I asked him to assist me get an inservice training with the organisation, which was granted. I have been in the organisation for a month now, they are teaching me things I never thought I would ever know, like managing stock, typing quotations, calculating the cost of building stock, calculating builder’s payments, and many more. Project Build Trust has played a huge role in my life that I will never forget”.
(Right)Londiwe , is Mr Mfeka’s daughter , she is currently doing her first year financial accounting. Londiwe has been with us for a week, she is working closely with Nondumiso (our community liaison officer). We are planning to refer her to an accounting company where she will get experiential learning in accounting.
It gives the organisation pure delight seeing them grow, they are gaining competency doing practical tasks assigned to them daily. We would like to believe that this opportunity will afford them theoretical and practical skills at the same time so that they will have no problem in the real world of work when they complete their studies.