Keeping schools ‘on air’ in Rwanda

September 2016

‘The Solar charger has assisted in keeping us on air with the rest of the staff at school anytime, anywhere without worrying about a power blackout.’ – Teacher from Bisate Primary School.

Great news! The Solar Kids School Program is bringing light and energy to school kids and their teachers in rural Rwanda – keeping them ‘on air’ no matter what power shortages come their way.

Together with SaferRwanda and National Commission for UNESCO, we have now delivered 996 Little Sun solar lamps and 33 solar phone chargers to Bisate Primary School. The school is located in a remote countryside area, 120 km North East of Kigali, near Mont Karisimbi. The students come from the communities of Bisoke and Kavubu cells in the villages of Kazi, Kamata, Shonero, Myase and Nyarusizi which surround the Volcanoes Biosphere Reserve & National Park.

The program not only gives the kids unrestricted access to light (giving them extra study hours after dark as well as safety getting to and from school in the dark) but there are important benefits for the teachers as well. The Charges are providing a way to keep teachers ‘on air’ – charging their phones and other devices keeps them connected with each other and with the world to share knowledge, news and crucial information that would otherwise be much harder for them to access.

 

 

Here’s what one of the teachers had to say about the program:

‘The solar chargers have helped us in lesson planning and preparation at night. We are able to save money that was previously spent on charging phones in charging centres.

We are also able to save time that would otherwise be spent on making trips to charging centers to charge phones. Now we use the time for productive work.’

 

Millions of Rwandans use kerosene lamps, candles or flashlights for lighting which is disastrous for health, safety, education and the environment. For kids in particular, not having access to light limits study and reading time which of course has major consequences for their future.

In response to this, SaferRwanda and Little Sun developed the Solar Kids School Programme. It is an innovative package that fosters learning by providing the opportunity to study and read for longer after the sun goes down, with safe, healthy solar light. Extensive studies by the British NGO Solar Aid have shown that access to light helps students to do their homework for an extra hour per night which results in better grades. Their health is also significantly improved as they are no longer exposed to the harmful emissions from kerosene lamps.

 

Here’s what our partner Safer Rwanda has to say about their vision for the program:

 

‘Our vision of the Solar Kids School program is to reach as many rural schools as possible to continue to support pupils students’ Education (academic performance) through providing them with solar lamps so as to enhance their expectations of the future and to raise awareness to schools about the importance of solar energy in the protection of the environment.’

 

As well as benefiting students and teachers, the project is also contributing to local biodiversity conservation efforts, especially for the Volcanoes Biosphere Reserve & National Park. Every lamp or Charge that replaces kerosene lamps or candles helps to eliminate the use of fossil fuels which of course is a step forwards in preventing climate change.

 

We also asked the teachers at the school why they thought it was important that children should learn about climate change, sustainability and solar energy.

 

‘Solar energy as a form of renewable energy has become more popular over the years and it’s our duty as teachers to educate children about solar energy as a clean energy product, its advantages and its importance in protecting the environment.

It is vital for the pupils to learn about solar energy as a form of clean energy to equip the young generation with Environmental knowledge and its advantages like how solar energy has no impact on people’s health compared to kerosene lamps which are harmful.’ – Teacher at Biaste Primary School.

 

Stay in the loop as we develop more programs in Rwanda – for education, health and the environment.

If you are a humanitarian aid worker and you would like to assist us in spreading light and energy to refugees, please contact our Humanitarian team:

mason@littlesun.com

 

And for those who would like like further background information…

 

Here’s some more information on our partners:

  • UNESCO Rwanda (CNRU): Technical and financial support to implement the “Solar Kids School Project” aiming to contribute to improving the biodiversity conservation and the wellbeing of the local communities surrounding the Volcanoes Biosphere Reserve and National Park.
  • SaferRwanda, an independent non-state actor and non-profit organization, is our local partner and takes care of the logistics and distribution of the solar lamps and organizes the educational session.

And some further background info on Rwanda:

Rwanda is located in a region affected by ongoing tensions in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi. It has been hosting refugees for decades, while also receiving and reintegrating Rwandan returnees. In 2015, UNHCR focused on protecting, assisting and finding long-term solutions for 74,000 Congolese (DRC) refugees hosted in Rwanda since 1996, including through a large-scale resettlement programme. Also in 2015, UNHCR responded to a sudden influx of Burundian refugees fleeing electoral violence. Over 77,000 refugees, of which nearly 71,000 were still in the country at the end of 2015, were registered and assisted.