Students given opportunity of a lifetime to build a school in a week, in South Africa

23rd January 2017

Students given opportunity of a lifetime to build a school in a week, in South Africa


North Kent College Construction students have been offered the chance to help build a school in a week in South Africa, courtesy of UK charity Mellon Educate and funded by local business entrepreneur Mark Lindop.


Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela


Inspired by Nelson Mandela, Niall Mellon created the charity Mellon Educate in 2002 to help change lives and bring education to impoverished communities in South Africa. This year’s school build will take place in November and see 250 volunteers build a school in just a week.


Usually the volunteers raise £4,000 each in order to participate, but a Kent based volunteer on the project, Mark Lindop, has kindly announced that he would like to support two students from North Kent College by covering their costs. All flights, accommodation, breakfast and lunches will be covered (evening dinners are self-funded except on the final night when there is a wrap party).


The College is now hosting a competition to find the 2 students who can best demonstrate how their construction skills can change young lives in South Africa and bring education and all its benefits to 100s of children.


The all-expenses paid, opportunity of a lifetime will bring a host of benefits to the students, not only improving their employability skills and work experience, but offers them the chance to build relationships with other like-minded volunteers, the local South African communities and experience life on a different continent.


Explaining his involvement to NKC students, Mark Lindop says "I went on my first trip 3 years ago thinking I will just go the once, and this year will be my fourth time! Everyone is friendly and the local kids are a delight to see when they smile and run around their new school rooms. The day is long and sometimes hard, but it’s all too much fun and laughs as well! I never thought I would go to South Africa, but I’m so glad I did, and hope you can join myself and the Build team in 2017!"


The concept is ground-breaking in that an entire school is built in just five days by an army of volunteers under the direction of skilled tradespeople. The winning students will be able to expand their knowledge base by working across multiple trades and witnessing first-hand the logistics involved in running a large scale initiative on tight deadlines.


Mark Andrews, Assistant Principal, Construction & Engineering at North Kent College comments “this is a truly inspiring opportunity for our students to gain both life and work experience, whilst helping create a school and a better future for youngsters in South Africa. We’re extremely grateful to Mellon Educate and especially to Mark Lindop for providing the funding for our 2 students, who probably would not be able to afford to volunteer for this life-changing trip. I’m hoping we see some fabulous entries into the competition.”


Students will gain exposure to multiple trades, hands on experience in their own field of study, and general life skills experience in the form of pitching skills, interview techniques and presenting styles.

The successful candidates will be ambassadors for the college and will have to pitch themselves and go through a round of interviews to be chosen, then blog from the building site once there, as a way of improving their life skills.


The competition is open to all NKC Construction students and apprentices and requires them to say in 200 words why they’re NKC’s best suited student for the ‘Building Blitz Competition’ plus why and how they can make a big difference to the build and young lives.


The competition will be judged by Mellon Educate, Mark Lindop himself and NKC Staff at the end of February.


Further information and video content on the Building Blitz programme can be found at or

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