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Solar classrooms are cool, literally

When you visit a small, crowded African classroom, often with holes in the roof, and no electricity, it doesn’t take much imagination to think that such conditions make it difficult to teach and to learn.

So I must admit that reading the Poverty Matters Blog post about new solar-powered classrooms that provide air-conditioning, lighting, and internet access really caught my attention. As they point out, rural electrification is about 25%, which really limits schools and communities in all sorts of ways. The prototype classrooms manufactured by Samsung are made of shipping containers and provide about 9 hours of power.

As I sit here thinking, these could simultaneously improve student attention, the quality of the materials they work with, reduce rates of teacher absenteeism (by making it more pleasant to BE in the classroom), and help to connect students to the world and a world of information resources. There is always good reason to be cautious about any technological fix as being a panacea or even a major solution, but this strikes me as a seriously exciting possibility.

Solar Classroom in Johannesburg (from Poverty Matters)

Kirinyaga district school (courtesy Kelly Zhang)

About Evan Lieberman

I am a Professor of Political Science at MIT, and I conduct research, write, and teach about development, ethnic politics, and research methods.


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