Solar Power for StudentsAugust 2017
Imagine being a child living without electricity and not having the freedom to read a book after dark. Imagine your school performance was restricted by not having light – or that you had to read by a dim and smoky kerosene lamp that harms your eyes and makes you cough.
In Ethiopia alone, 16 million schoolchildren live off the electrical grid, with no or very limited access to energy. Students leave for school early in the morning, when it is still dark outside; after class they have to help in the fields, often returning home after dark. These students’ only opportunity to read and study is at night, after they have finished work. Most students living in off-grid regions rely on firewood or dangerous, polluting, expensive kerosene or candles for light.
The Little Sun Foundation aims to empower a generation of schoolchildren by giving them access to renewable energy in the form of a small solar light for their everyday lives. Extensive studies by the British NGO Solar Aid show that access to clean and safe light helps students to do their homework for an extra hour per night, resulting in better grades – as well as better health by completely eliminating their exposure to harmful fumes from kerosene.
“When children gain additional hours of light and spend that time studying, they improve their grades and develop higher self-confidence, which plays a role in their desire to continue their education, seek higher-paying jobs, and develop higher expectations for the future”. (Impact Study by Sonny Money, Dec 2013)
Giving students a portable solar lamp also helps the economic development of their household – the solar lamp saves money that would otherwise be spent on kerosene, candles, and batteries. A family in rural Ethiopia spends on average 1 USD per week on kerosene, on top of the travel costs to and from the supplier. Total world total kerosene consumption is estimated to be about 1.2 million barrels per day. Kerosene is highly flammable, causing accidental burns and house fires. Kerosene lamps also release toxic fumes that irritate the eyes and skin and cause respiratory problems. Regularly breathing in kerosene fumes has a health effect equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day.