Solar Kids School Program RwandaOctober 2017
Millions of Rwandans use kerosene lamps, candles or flashlights for lighting which is disastrous for health, safety, education, and the environment. For children in particular, not having access to light limits study and reading time which in turn has major consequences for their future. This is why we started the Solar Kids School Program, which brings sustainable light and energy to schoolchildren and their teachers in rural Rwanda.
The project was launched successfully in 2016 and together with SaferRwanda and National Commission for UNESCO, we delivered 996 Little Sun solar lamps as well as 33 solar phone chargers to Bisate Primary School. The school is located in a remote countryside area, 120 km North East of Kigali.
Giving solar powered devices to schools in areas without reliable energy access has an huge impact in two ways: The program not only gives the children unrestricted access to light (giving them extra study hours after dark as well as providing safety on their way to and from school in the dark) but there are important benefits for the teachers as well. Solar powered chargers 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.
Alongside benefiting students and teachers, the project is also contributing to environmental efforts in the region. Every lamp or solar-powered phone charger that replaces kerosene lamps or candles helps to eliminate the use of fossil fuels which is a step towards a more sustainable planet. In addition to providing solar powered devices, we are aiming to raise awareness for sustainability and environmental challenges. In the course of distributing our devices, we also provided learning materials and workshop ideas for teachers. When asking teachers why they thought it was important that children learn about climate change, sustainability and solar energy, they answered:
‘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.
The second milestone of the project was the distribution of Little Suns to 610 schoolgirls in Nyaruguru thanks to Plan International in February 2017. Plan International Rwanda, in partnership with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA Rwanda), saw the need for the rights of girls in rural Rwanda to be promoted.
The distribution was part of the project “Girls Safe School” funded by the Because I am a Girl（Plan International Japan） National Office, in line with the Plan International global movement dubbed BIAAG Because I am a Girl Global). The project promotes gender-transformative education through improving gender-responsive teaching, strengthening the responsiveness of schools to equal rights, empowering young adults to be actively involved in decision-making and much more.
An integral partner in this project is the non-profitable charity organization “Partnerschaft Rheinland-Pfalz/ Ruanda e. V.“. With their support thus far, we have been enabled bringing already hundreds of lamps to Rwanda. More distribution plans are in the works. Since this is an ongoing project with multiple of applications, it has infinite potential to influence the future of Rwanda’s young generations.
The Solar Kids School Program in Rwanda contributes to the following SDGs: