The School of Carpentry & Construction is a vocational training and service center that features a large range of modern tools, equipment, and techniques all designed to improve the efficiency, safety, and quality of construction projects in Cameroon.
Kumbo, Cameroon, suffers from an overwhelming deficiency of tools; workers lack experience integrating the various trades required to efficiently build or renovate a building. The result is that construction projects are frequently plagued with inefficiency, inconsistent quality, high cost, and numerous safety concerns. By integrating several vocational trades, including carpentry, masonry and plumbing, the School of Carpentry & Construction is training a new generation of general contractors who will be equipped to more effectively address the challenges of construction.
The School of Carpentry & Construction also offers a 10-week vocational training course on advanced woodworking techniques and furniture-making. The course includes training in structural design, furniture design and upholstery, detail carpentry work, wood preserving and finishing techniques, project estimating, and shop management. With a strong emphasis on hands-on experience, the program provides ample opportunity for student projects and internships. Graduates can use their certificates of completion to help them get better jobs throughout Cameroon and select students have the opportunity to join the furniture production and service program.
The School of Carpentry & Construction is equipped with a modern set of woodworking machines—table saw, mortising machine, drill press, lathe, plunge routers, hand-held belt sanders, and random orbit hand sanders. Many of these machines are the first of their kind in the area, helping to make the local carpentry industry more efficient, productive, and safe.
The service program makes these modern power tools available to the Kumbo public. Staffed by select graduates from the center’s 10-week training program, the center provides on-demand custom cuts and joinery for established carpenters. Many of the orders completed in minutes with stationary power tools at the School would otherwise take days of manual labor. The service program ensures high-quality products for consumers and broadens the catalog for the 250+ carpenters in the region.
Technicians from the training program are also trained in modern furniture design and building techniques. The School of Carpentry & Construction fills challenging orders from the local community for furniture that could not be completed through traditional methods. By doing this, the School raises awareness of the potential for local materials and creates future demand for locally-produced, high quality furniture. Upon commencement of the first training program, the School was asked to completely furnish a new government building.
Building Material Production
The School of Carpentry & Construction also produces high-quality building materials such as cement blocks and treated wood. Made from local stock, these enterprises provide value addition within the community, rather than exporting raw materials at little benefit to the local population. Having a reliable source for durable building materials will give the people of Kumbo safer, longer-lasting homes and furniture.
In Summer 2010, the School developed a solar wood kiln. The first of its kind, this sustainable kiln uses the heat of the sun to season lumber in a fraction of the time required using traditional methods. Seasoned wood is difficult to come by in Kumbo, leaving many carpenters with no option but to use fresh boards, which warp and crack, in their furniture. The solar kiln provides quality boards for woodworkers and contractors in the community.
Community Educational Outreach
In addition to the 10-week training program offered to carpenters, graduates of the School of Carpentry & Construction volunteer in the local technical high school, providing the most up-to-date technical knowledge to students. This program strives to fill in the gaps in local technical education.
- Local carpenters can improve their skills by either attending the School’s 10-week program or through frequently offered workshops and seminars.
- Student can use their skills to create their own micro-enterprises.
- Select students receive direct employment through the furniture production and specialty wood-services programs.
- Local carpenters and craftsmen can gain access to modern woodworking tools through the specialty wood-services programs. This will save them time and increase their productivity.
- The community will see an increase in the quality of furniture and other construction projects throughout Kumbo.