RTC partners with JUUNOO and Gyproc® to develop the first circular learning box for schools

As of next year, West Flemish technical secondary education students will be able to experiment with the circular learning box for the first time.  This box teaches them how to apply circular construction in the field.  The project is the result of a close collaboration between RTC, JUUNOO and Gyproc®.  “We’ve observed that schools are still not responding sufficiently to the transformation that’s currently taking place within the construction sector.  We intend to use this learning box to prepare students for the labour market,” says Education and Labour Market Project Officer at RTC West-Vlaanderen, Mathieu Bayart.

Circularity has been on the rise in the construction industry for a number of years. The construction sector is also responsible for no less than 40% of current CO2 emissions.  An increasing number of companies are therefore making the switch to circular construction.  The principle of circularity is simple: to keep raw materials in circulation for as long as possible.  “The importance of this is reflected in the new curricula, which are based on new attainment levels that require second cycle secondary school students to embrace sustainable construction and circularity.  We’re now supplying schools with this circular educational package in addition to the training, to give them concrete tools that enable them to continue working towards these new objectives,” explains RTC project officer, Mathieu Bayart.

Circulaire leerbox

Increasing demand in the labour market

The collaboration was initiated in response to the circular-themed month that RTC organised last year,  during which both JUUNOO and Gyproc identified an urgent need for greater focus on the topic. Together with JUUNOO, we’re making drastic changes to the construction industry. Our goal is to create maximum sustainable impact. Within Flemish culture, however, we often notice a reluctance to embrace new initiatives. That’s why it’s important that the classroom prepares the next generation for the future,” says JUUNOO founder, Chris Van de Voorde.

Regional Technological Institute, RTC West-Vlaanderen, is striving to harmonise the education system with the labour market. “We form the link between businesses and schools. The construction sector is constantly evolving. Listening to what’s going on in the industry enables us to better prepare students for the labour market. This was also the reason for embarking on a collaboration with two circular pioneers: JUUNOO en Gyproc. They understand the sector and possess the requisite technical knowledge,”  says Mathieu Bayart. 

The construction sector is constantly evolving. Listening to what’s going on in the industry enables us to better prepare students for the labour market.

Circular box welcomed by teachers

The VTI in Roeselare is one of the schools participating in the project.  “As a technical school, we consider it essential that our students are able to keep up with the latest developments. Which is why sustainable and circular construction has formed part of our curriculum for some time now,” says technical adviser, Jens Vanhecke. “The circular learning box is a welcome addition. We recently had the opportunity to use it during our open days and are looking forward to integrating it into our lessons in the next school year.”

While schools are certainly not obliged to incorporate the circular learning box into their curricula, 14 woodworking schools have already completed the training and ordered the accompanying educational package. “Circularity is a hot topic, and schools are keen to instil that in their students. They want their students to be able to hit the ground running. So, it’s important to teach them the innovative tricks of the trade before leaving the classroom,” says Mathieu Bayart.

The project was realised with financial support from sustainable living, construction and renovation centre ‘Acacias’ and construction sector foundation ‘Constructiv’, and with structural support from timber sector foundation ‘Woodwize’.  Schools needn’t finance the circular learning box themselves; they’re offered it free of charge. This is intended to further incentivise them to incorporate circular teaching into their lessons, on top of the teacher training that has already taken place. RTC is still looking for partners to expand the circular box and help support the project in the coming school years.