The ESPOIR School of Life started in summer 2016 in Siargao, south of the Philippines. This important school will give children a set of core skills & values that will be useful in everyday life and help them to secure employment once their studies are completed. The school teaches children life skills such as respect, team-work, family, pride, love, tolerance & compassion.
The initial site where the school was built wasn’t really adequate for a proper learning environment as the facilities were too small and in a bad location. Nicolas Gontard & his wife (the founders of the school) approached the local mayor with the concept to build a new and better school.
The mayor was supportive and donated a parcel of land for the project. Nicolas & other private donors provided the funding whilst ESPOIR members sourced the materials and the labour to make it happen. The arrangement with locals was that the ESPOIR team would supply materials and expertise whilst the local families contributed sweat equity and elbow grease.
Here’s a few fast facts about the school:-
- A new school for the poorest of the poor.
- Stage 1 will have one classroom and a Clivus Multrum (CM40) composting toilet. When complete the school will have 12-13 classrooms with 260 children at full capacity.
- It is a free school that provides food and uniforms & well as a high standard of education.
- It is in a central location so kids can easily & safely walk to school.
- Funded through private donations.
Why ESPOIR chose a composting toilet
When the project team looked at all the different toilet options they knew there were some challenges they had to overcome. There was no sewage system operating in the area, the predominant toilet systems that were in use were septic tanks & pit toilets. The problem with these solutions was that in combination with high rainfall and water table close to the ground surface, contamination of groundwater was a major problem.
The project team did not want to contribute to this ongoing problem, so a composting toilet system provided a logical alternative. It was inexpensive to buy and install and low tech it was easy to use and crossed language barriers. In addition, a composting toilet system is a great way to demonstrate better and more sustainable approaches to managing human waste.
At this early stage, there has been very little resistance from the kids and the feedback from adults has been positive. One person is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the toilet and so far the ESPOIR team would not hesitate in recommending the system to others.