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Dedicated training in Woodless Construction

How people are taught  woodless construction

Deficiencies of “on-the-job” training 

Until 1987, the introduction of vault and dome building techniques was undertaken in Niger in the context of various programmes linked to rural development and to the management and conservation of local resources. The primary objective was to build rather than to train. Ad hoc “training” on-the-job, meant builders of widely varying experience and qualifications working on the construction of one or more buildings. Although this provided opportunities to learn, not everyone could be exposed to the same experience. For example, more skilled builders were naturally assigned to the more complex tasks. Such on-the-job training, although by no means totally unsuccessful did not however allow all the masons involved to be trained in all stages of the building process —from laying out to finishing. Normal site pressures meant that there was no opportunity for repeating the same operation several times (laying out, choosing a brick pattern, building the vault or dome etc.). The builders therefore typically emerged with an incomplete view of the whole process, and this was a serious deficiency, since knowing how to build a vault or a dome without also knowing how to build adequate foundations and strong walls is potentially dangerous. 

Dedicated builders’ training programmes 

Recognising the deficiency of on-the-job learning, from 1987 onwards opportunities were sought by DW to run dedicated training, as opposed to primarily construction, programmes. These included exercises to practise various construction stages on structures that are built, taken down, and rebuilt as often as necessary, and opportunities to learn the principles behind the structure of the buildings. The improvement in the overall understanding of the techniques amongst builders and their subsequently better quality work on “real” construction sites, confirmed that a dedicated programme of training of builders and of local trainers was necessary if the vault and dome techniques were to achieve wider use. From 1992 onwards all training of novice woodless construction builders by DW takes place in a structured manner on special training structures.