We are thrilled to announce that our project at Seboka Primary School in Lithabaneng has been shortlisted for the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) 2023 Public Choice Architectural Awards.. 


Fran Whelan CEO of non-profit Action Ireland Trust and Director of CWPA stated, “This is a huge honor and very exciting for our practice. This project involved the provision of flushing toilets, smokeless kitchens, bored wells, rainwater harvesting and sustainable vegetable gardens to five schools, known as the 5-Hub Schools, with over 6,000 children. These schools have appalling sanitation carrying a high risk of disease and no dignity for those attending school there. While the buildings are simple in scale and palette, they make a strong design statement within the community, bringing color and interest to the landscape. Working closely with the Ministry for Education and Training and Action Ireland Trust our aim is to create a prototype at Seboka that can be replicated at other schools in Lesotho”.


This project was made possible thanks to funding from Action Ireland Trust, their partners including the Quinn Family Foundation, as well as the hard work and commitment from the Seboka community. 

Whelan added, “Action Ireland Trust volunteers were involved in mentoring the Lesotho construction personnel on site together with rise international who managed the entire project. It was also a great experience to work with young local architect, Tumelo Lerata and Italian intern, Valentina Riverso through the design development and monitoring the construction stages”.  

The UNICEF programmes for Child Friendly Schools and the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) were fully incorporated in this project. The World Food Programme also participated with the provision of pressure cookers and are also very keen to see that the sustainable and self-sufficient food gardens together with the rainwater harvesting can also be rolled out in Lesotho.


The infrastructure projects were designed and built by rise’s young in loco Pioneers with guidance from our partner Irish Architecture firm CWPA and rise’s construction and design team. in loco is a unique hands-on design, build & entrepreneurship fellowship prog​​ram focusing on knowledge exchange, capacity building, cooperation and development.t. Once the fellows successfully graduate from the in loco program, they graduate into Pioneers and join our Pioneer Business Incubation program, where they continue to thrive as entrepreneurs and business owners.


Tumelo Lerata, the lead Architecture Technologist and Pioneer from the 2018 in loco cohort, says, “The 5-Hub-Schools has been a real eye opener and also the most interesting and complicated project to work on. Having  carried out Participatory Design Workshops (PDWs) of that magnitude where by we had to interview the communities, students, teachers, government and private sector and putting all that information into one modular design for all the 5-Hub-Schools while also having to cater for best performance of the buildings even under the the Covid-19 pandemic, it was not easy. We are pleased to say that the project master plan design addresses most of the issues raised in the PDWs.” 


Tumelo’s counterpart Valentina Riverso, an Italian Architect who came to Lesotho as part of her Masters Program Internship back in 2019  added, “I am delighted to see our project being acknowledged and shortlisted for the prestigious award. As an international recent architecture graduate, working alongside a talented team of Basotho young architects and the Irish professionals from CWPA, this endeavor has been a rewarding journey of challenges and personal growth. I am incredibly grateful to have been part of this project. The profound value of teamwork, collaboration and knowledge has been instrumental in achieving this significant milestone”.


“We are immensely proud of the Seboka Primary School projects and the recognition they have received through their shortlisting for the RIAI Public Choice Architectural Awards,” said rise Country Director Reitumetse Nthako.Nthako further stated “These projects represent our commitment to creating safe, inclusive, and inspiring learning spaces for children in Lesotho. We are grateful for the collaboration with local communities, architects, and partners who made these projects possible.”

The RIAI Public Choice Architectural Awards provide an opportunity for the public to participate in the selection process and vote for their favorite project. This inclusive approach aligns with rise International’s mission to empower communities and engage stakeholders in the decision-making process.”

From a total of 187 entries our project made it to the RIAI’s shortlist of 53 finalists who are to be voted for by the public. So we can only bring this award home if you participate and place your vote TODAY!  


Please vote for the Seboka Primary School Project  on this link before midnight on June 20, 2023: https://www.riai.ie/public-choice-award-poll

Projects are listed in Alphabetical order so you have to scroll down to the 43rd entry to get to “S” for Seboka! Only one vote is allowed per person. So please spread the word to your contacts to help us get this award for Lesotho! 



Additional info

About rise

rise international is a non-profit social enterprise, working towards a world where sustainable social enterprises, created by local entrepreneurs from low-income countries, are the norm. rise has been piloting an innovative learning-by-doing programme in Lesotho called in loco since 2017 with a view to expanding to other African countries in the future.

Through their professional network, rise links aspiring social entrepreneurs to fundamental resources in order to fulfill their potential. riseint.org


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Chris Theko: (+266) 6292 4052

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About Action Ireland Trust

Since 2007 Action Ireland Trust has brought nearly 600 transition year students from Portmarnock Community School, Ireland to Africa as part of their Transition Year Programme. Amongst other things, in 2012 they commenced a project at Ha Hlalele High School which has seen a major expansion of classrooms, science lab, kitchen, administration block, toilets, the introduction of the UNICEF WASH and Child-Friendly Schools (CFS) Programmes. Their educational training programme reaches out to over 275 teachers and 10,000 learners in Lesotho and continues to support 6 women’s co-operations that are manufacturing and selling school uniforms, tablecloths, sheets, and tourism memorabilia.


Social media @actionirelandtrust @5hubschools_AIT


Seboka Primary School staff ablution blocks
Seboka Primary School girls’ ablution interior