By Gabriel Olawale
Glow Initiative for Economic Empowerment under its Solar Up Nigeria (SUN) program launched the Solar for Schools Community Project with financial support from Access bank PLC.
This project championed the installation and handover of a 2.5KVA solar PV system to Community Secondary School, Ebenebe, Awka North Local Government Area, Anambra State which especially powers the schools computer center enabling the kids access to computer, ICT and digital skills education which are relevant for the 21st century.
Community Secondary School Ebenebe has for years been without access to electricity and this constituted a great impediment for effective learning in the school. The school principal informed the team that they had to sell palm fruits which grew in the school compound so that they could be able to afford to ‘rent’ a generator so that only the final year students of the school (SS3) could conduct computer practicals during the exam period. This was highly ineffective as not all students could have access to the school computers due to limited resources to bear the cost of electric power. However, with the installation of the Solar PV system in the school and a guaranteed 24hour supply of electricity, students could now have unlimited access to their computers for learning.
The founder and Executive Director of Glow Initiative, Ms. Glory Oguegbu said that the goal of the project was to foster education in energy-deprived rural communities by providing them access to electricity. According to her, powering education is key in the 21st century where students need digital skills to thrive and be able to compete favorably with their counterparts in other parts of the world. Ms. Glory pointed out that students, especially those in rural communities need all the support they can get in the area of ICT and eLearning. She said that the project was her organization’s little way of supporting these students and ensuring that they acquire the digital skills and competence which will enable them to become relevant and productive in a global and ever rising digital skills world. She further encouraged the students to make use of the educational resources at their disposal to become champions in their desire fields of endeavour.
The traditional ruler of Ebenebe community, Igwe Nnaemeka Christopher Nnaegbuna said he was elated that his community could benefit from such a laudable initiative. He said that despite the proximity of his community to Awka capital territory, initiatives and interventions such as the “Solar for School community Project” often elude his community. The Igwe identified education as an important tool in shaping and helping young people become better citizens in society. He, therefore, said that every effort to make learning processes seamless and convenient for students is a welcomed development. The Igwe spoke of the desire of his community to improve the infrastructures at the community school but identified the paucity of funds as a major drawback.
The Igwe expressed his immense gratitude to the organizers of the project and described their efforts as well-timed as it is coming at a period when the school is a dire need of redemptive attention. He further pledged the commitment of his community in ensuring that the installed solar PV system is safeguarded.
The principal of the school, Mrs Bibian Chikeluba lauded the initiative and thanked the organizers of the project. According to her, the installation of the Solar PV system in the school is a prayer answered and a huge relief for them. She said that they no longer need to worry about funds for fueling and renting a generator for students to be able to have computer practical. Mrs Chikeluba believes that the provision of electricity in their school will greatly improve the quality of education and learning outcomes. According to her, both students and teachers can now connect to the internet for educational research.
One of the students of the school, Miracle Somtoo Nwankwo thanked the organizers of the project for bringing electricity to their school. According to him, they can now learn computers unhindered. Miracle also expressed delight in being part of the solar installation processes in their school.
Glow Initiative has continued to provide access to electricity in rural areas through solar power. One of their most remarkable projects was building a solar powered learning center for rural fish traders in makoko community and trained 20 fish traders on how to install solar panels, how to build solar ovens for fish preservation. That center till today has continued to provide a safe space for women to learn about so lar education and advocacy and get answers to questions and sell electricity for phone charging and barbing.
For the Solar for Schools Community Project, Glow Initiative will like to reach more rural off grid schools with access to electricity and are open to sponsorships and partnerships.