Education Powered by the Sun: Welcome to Kamonyi

March 2018

Fewer than half of the 93 primary schools in Kamonyi District in Rwanda’s Southern Province have access to electricity. Less than 5% of the district’s children have electricity at home, and after returning from school each day, many will spend the rest of the daylight hours helping their parents with agricultural or household tasks. By the time students are able to turn their attention to their studies, their entire neighbourhood is in almost complete darkness.

In February 2018, representatives from the Little Sun Foundation, together with our partners Safer Rwanda and the Rwandan Ministry of Education, were able to visit five schools in Kamonyi District, distributing solar-powered lamps to each student.

The five schools are the first to participate in our Solar Schools Rwanda programme, which aims to give all children in the Kamonyi district access to clean, safe, and renewable light sources to support them with their studies.

The teachers weren’t forgotten either. Teachers at the five schools were given solar-powered phone chargers, enabling them to better rely on their phones, which they use to plan lessons as well as to stay in touch with parents and their own families.

The early feedback has been encouraging. “I can now help my parents on the field and use the lamp at night to do my homework,” Tuyisenge, an 11-year-old student in the district told us. “Also, I’m glad to have a light when I go outside after dark.”

The lights themselves have also played a role in teaching the students about the future of sustainable energy. “I can see the excitement of students and teachers when they learn how solar energy works,” says Kalize, a technical engineer working with Safer Rwanda. More detailed monitoring and evaluation of the project is underway, and we will be sharing more stories from the participating schools over the coming months.

The local authorities have also given their support to the Solar Schools initiative, seeing it as an important step in the long-term expansion of energy provision. “More and more families in Rwanda have access to energy,” District Executive Mandela Muzinga Sam told us. “But still, many students need to study with kerosene lamps or expensive torches. We do not want to leave anybody behind. That is why the efforts of the Little Sun Foundation are helping us until every school and household in Rwanda is electrified.”

With the help of our donors, the Little Sun Foundation is now preparing to equip another school in Kamonyi District – Kayonza Primary School – with solar devices to help students and teachers learn about and access renewable energy. If we reach our crowdfunding target, we will be able to distribute 640 lamps and 20 chargers by late 2018.

The Little Sun Foundation will then bring the lamps and phone chargers to Kamonyi and Safer Rwanda will provide training for the teachers, students and parents, returning after a period of two months to conduct monitoring and evaluation.

To support this project, and help more students like Tuyisenge in their educational journeys, please make a donation.

The Solar Kids School Program in Rwanda contributes to the following SDGs: