London company's 'Solar Classroom in a Box' project aims to change the face of education in Africa

'For nearly all, this will be their first ever experience with a computer', says the director of the project

Click to follow
The Independent Online

You’d be surprised at what some cables, four batteries, a set of solar panels, and a 3G satellite connection could achieve, but that’s exactly how one UK-based computer company will be changing lives in one of the world’s poorest nations.

Along with the University of Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Aleutia, in London, will begin rolling out an education initiative across Kenya called Solar Classroom in a Box.

Doing exactly what it says on the tin, flat-pack classrooms will be sent over to each of the country’s 47 counties, with one able to fit into a pick-up truck. The best thing of all is that they don’t require any specialist construction and local handymen have already been setting them up within a day.

With field-proven solar technology – combined with low power computers – Aleutia saw the need for the project after discovering how Africa accounts for over a sixth of the world’s population – yet it only generates four per cent of global electricity, a problem which looks set to get worse as the demand for power grows.

20-by-nine-foot, the classrooms can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time, and also come complete with 11 desktop computers, monitors, a server, and projector. The kit even includes a screwdriver for that extra bit of help when assembling.

Already deployed at over 180 rural schools in ten developing countries, the company’s director, Mike Rosenberg, spoke about what he wanted to see happen after bringing the project to 130 schools across Uganda.

Speaking of the powerful and interactive software students now have access to there, he said: “It dramatically improves these students’ education and empowers their teachers, providing them with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in this world.

How the project has impacted Uganda:

Students who are so thirsty for knowledge, that they rise at six and walk two hours to school now have the resources to compete in this world.”

Speaking about the Kenyan project with tech site Gizmag, Mr Rosenberg said: “For nearly all, this will be their first ever experience with a computer.”

Costing around $20,000 (£13,000) – with $10,000 (£6,500) for the structure itself and for the equipment – Solar Classroom in a Box will be funded by The Safaricom Foundation, launching across Kenya later this month.