Donated by Japanese company, Kyocera Corporation, the systems will be installed in four secondary schools across Tanzania and three primary schools in Uganda. The aim of the solar systems is to help improve the schools’ infrastructure and contribute to the students’ learning.
Across the developing world around 50% of children still go to primary schools without access to electricity – more than 291 million children. This lack of electricity remains problematic for students who go on to secondary or tertiary education.
Meanwhile in Africa, around 59% of the population still remain without electricity access at home – increasing to around 85% outside of urban centres.
This lack of electricity can have a huge impact on a child’s ability to learn, and therefore their future earning potential, as an individual’s expected income is strongly related to the number of year’s spent in education.
Across much of the developing world, the school performance for children attending rural schools without electricity is below that of children attending urban schools with it.
Electricity can provide schools with light, allowing lessons to last longer, and can offer space heating and cooling, allowing lessons to continue all year. It can also enable access to media and communications during lessons.
Kyocera’s latest donation is part of a wider project which aims to bring 600-watt solar power systems to 35 schools without access to grid electricity. Each facility will come with storage batteries as well as basic equipment such as lamps, TV sets and radios.
These, the company hopes, with help light up classrooms and diversify the learning activities for students, while also offering the local community an energy source, which can be used to charge mobile phones.
Kyocera representative Youichi Higashi said:
I was deeply touched to receive handshakes from many students expressing gratitude. The value of electricity is difficult to understand in countries where power access is always available.
So far, Kyocera has donated to 28 schools across the two countries.
This latest project joins a host of other schemes which aim to bring off-grid electricity to rural Africa.
For example, in 2011, Samsung launched a mobile, solar-powered classroom in Johannesburg, South Africa aimed at reaching children in the farthest corners of rural Africa.
Built inside a 12-metre-long shipping container, the classroom contained a range of gadget from laptops, a video camera and a 50-inch e-board. Samsung said the school would be easily carried by truck to remote areas and operate where there is no electricity supply.
UK charity SolarAid has also worked in rural areas across East and Southern Africa installing solar on schools, community centres and clinics and now has projects across Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia.