Masonry Course

Curso de Albañilería Within a Sofonic program with the Polytechnic Institute of Jinotepe, apprentices participated in an intensive course in June. In addition to practical aspects, there was a visit to the ecomaterials factory, a reunion with the parents and a bricklaying contest. The course motivated the future masons and emphasized that they are creating a fundamental base for their future. During a visit to the construction site, it was evident that the apprentices were doing good work.

 
Bernardo Rhyner   

SofoNic is running a program together with the Polytechnic Institute of Jinotepe to teach young people the arts of masonry. In the practical course the apprentices participate in house construction four days a week and receive classes on the fifth day.

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In an intensive course during my visit in July, we decided to develop a work plan that would motivate the apprentices and impress up on them that they are students and not just workers, and receiving a fundamental base for their future.

I was positively surprised that when we arrived on the construction site in the early morning they where already at work. To enter the project and to see about 25 young men (including the assistants) working and developing themselves was a special experience. I noticed the good quality of work. The walls were well built, and as to laying blocks, there was not much to improve.

Visit to Ecomateriales workshop
During a visit to the ecomaterials factory with the apprentices and the construction foreman, they learned the main ideas behind the materials and their importance for the projects, as well as their environmental impact. The young men were interested in CP-40, and impressed to learn that cement can be produced with volcanic sand mixed with lime. We spoke about the importance of lime in mortar to lay blocks, and they mentioned that it is much easier to work with lime mortar.

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They also learned how MCR tiles where made, and each apprentice had the opportunity to make their own tile and realize how easy it is, but also, that it needs practical experience to perfect the movements. We went on to the laboratory, where an assistant explained the process and the importance of the tests that are made on all the materials produced

Bricklaying Contest
We had a bricklaying contest with the apprentices. I taught them how to work with bricks and where the difficulties lie. After an hour of practice the contest started, in which they had to raise a column of 10 rows without using a level, plumb or an angle. For every minute they received one point, also a point for each millimeter of inaccuracy in level and the plumb. The winner reached 62 Points and the last one 135 points. The winner received a soccer ball.

At the beginning the young men thought that bricklaying was an easy to do, but meanwhile, they have noticed that there is still a long way to go before they become good masons.

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Meeting with parents
A meeting with the parents was organized to speak about the situation of the young men, and to make clear that they are students and not workers. The meeting was very good and important because the parents feel involved and are grateful for the opportunity that is provided for their children.

Video of a construction site in Switzerland
We showed the apprentices a video of a construction site in Switzerland , so that they could know about other forms of work and to motivate them to continue their studies. While viewing the video the young men were very interested and asked many questions. Motivation was higher than expected. The apprentices showed great interest and, in these two weeks, we have been able to teach them that masonry does not only consist of bricklaying. They are now further motivated to continue learning and acquire other skills that make a good mason. 

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