Denise Law
Friday, June 14, 2013 - 18:17

By Denise Law
Technology Monitoring Fellow

Lighting Up Learning

With the majority of the population being under 18, education is an important facet of Kenyan life. In rural areas in Kenya where communications technology is still developing, schools are not only a place for children to learn, they also act as a hub through which information can be disseminated in the community. Our local partner, Action for Child Development Trust (ACDT), relies heavily on school networks for outreach work. Thier mission is to empower children by visiting schools and educating them about their rights and responsibilities. 

ACDT has used this network to promote solar energy and market the d.lights to teachers, parents of pupils, and the pupils themselves during ACDT events. While solar lanterns are purchased by only a minority of the audience, this had led to many purchases by acquaintances of the audience, who learnt about the technology and were then put in touch with ACDT by the school.

Even though ACDT’s target customers in the context of the d.light project are individuals, one school has decided to purchase some d.lights for use during class. Let’s pay them a visit and see how the solar lanterns are helping the children learn!

Dusk in Kakamega

A landscape of trees

We arrive at a primary school at 6:30pm. The sun is starting to set and the pupils are gathered in their classroom for evening prep, their last activity before school finishes at around 7pm. As the students work on their mathematics homework, we talk with Moses, the class teacher. He tells us that the school used to collect, sometimes with difficulty, money from pupils every term in order to purchase kerosene for the lantern that was used in the evenings and early mornings. Fortunately when the school suggested purchasing d.light solar lanterns, the parents were very receptive. With just a one-off payment to fund the purchase they would eliminate the recurrent fuel fees required to maintain the kerosene lanterns.

A kerosene lantern

It turns out that the kerosene lantern, being fragile and flammable, caused an accident a year ago when some pupils arrived at school early and tried to set it up themselves. “With the solar lantern,” Moses adds, “the children now enjoy more autonomy and can start their morning prep sessions as soon as they arrive at school, even if the teachers are not there yet.”

Despite using four d.lights in each classroom, the d.light is not optimised for use in a spacious classroom setting afterall, and the light is not evenly spread. The school has applied for electricity and is looking forward to having it installed, although no date is set yet. Moses concludes, “In the meantime, the solar lanterns are a good interim solution.”