More than Light: A Holistic Solar Concept in Kenyan Village Schools

Stiftung Solarenergie - Solar Energy Foundation

For a typical child growing up in rural Kenya, access to education remains the most important means of acquiring the skills essential for professional development and social and economic self-determination.

Many schools do not have access to electricity, so many children are denied important opportunities. The advantage of solar energy is that it acts as a catalyst in various areas. Today, however, a holistic approach must go beyond simply replacing kerosene lamps. In addition to lighting, water, hygiene, health, food security and computer skills are other critical areas.

In this project, the Stiftung Solarenergie – Solar Energy Foundation draws on its experience with previous individual projects and bundles it into a more holistic approach. We are concentrating on three central areas:

  • Lighting: classroom lighting / mobile lamps for schoolchildren
  • IT: Energy for solar computers
  • Nutrition: Solar water pump to increase food security

The project was realized in three pilot schools, which received the following solar equipment:

Light for classrooms

Safe, reliable and affordable lighting is one of the most basic energy needs of any school. In each school, several classrooms have been equipped with solar light. This now also allows lessons in the morning and evening hours.

Mobile solar lamp for school children

Safe, reliable and affordable lighting is one of the most basic energy needs for students. Each pilot school will be provided with 100 solar lamps. Every morning, when the child comes to school, he or she brings the family lamp with him or her to recharge it at school during the day. In the evening, the child returns home with a fully charged lamp to enable evening learning.

One solar water pump per school

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF have highlighted the lack of adequate nutrition as a major obstacle to the education of poor children in Africa. Many schools in rural Kenya are already cultivating rain-fed crops and fruits.

Solar water pumps have considerable advantages over unreliable manual irrigation: they significantly improve harvests while using less water. In our project, each pilot school receives a solar water pump and a thorough introduction to its use. This enables them to improve the nutritional situation of the pupils.

Solar Powered Computers and Internet

Access to quality teaching materials is one of the greatest challenges facing rural schools. It also has an impact on the quality of teachers: schools without electricity, internet and computers are not very attractive.

In the meantime, however, there is proven solar technology for the hardware (computers) and software for the learning content. The energy-efficient computers developed by Endless are equipped with over 50 educational applications, including the curriculum content for Kenyan schools. With its apps and teaching aids, audiovisual illustrations and videos, Endless PC is an excellent teaching tool to significantly improve the learning experience for teachers and learners. Each pilot school receives 5 units of solar computer, including access to learning apps.

The schools selected for the pilot project:

  • Tetu Primary School
  • Maritati Primary School
  • Elerai Primary School

 

Training

The installation of light in the classrooms, the solar computers and the solar water pump were professionally carried out by SunTransfer Kenya. After the installation of all solar systems (light, computer, water pump), SunTransfer conducted training sessions at all schools. The aim of the training was threefold:

  1. To promote students’ understanding of why a solar system was installed and how it works.
  2. Training teachers and students in how to use the computers. It turned out that all students had never used a computer before and that they did not know what parts it consisted of. So the training started with demonstrating the parts of a computer and briefly explaining the function of each part. The second part was to turn on the computer and use the mouse to select a program. In this session two key programs were used, namely mathematics and the search for words in the encyclopedia.
  3. The training in the use of the solar water pump should help to demonstrate the variety of applications of solar technology.

 


 

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