Solar electricity becomes a beacon of hope in rural Zambia

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Winnie Nalube is lit up. Her high school in rural Zambia has just got lights and she’s thrilled with the possibilities it presents. “The classrooms and hostels have non-stop electricity and it’s livelier to be within the school vicinity and undertake studies at whichever time of the day without worry that it would be dark and won’t be able to study,” says the 17-year-old Winnie.

Her classmate is equally enamoured. Judith Makopo, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student, says that before they got lights, there was little time to study – it was too dark. “With the provision of electricity at the school, I have so much time to study,” Judith says, who dreams of becoming a lawyer one day.

The school’s deputy head teacher, Merciless Ngongola, explains that the school is very far from the national grid that offers hydro. To adapt, the school worked with World Vision to install solar panels and lights. The technology is quickly leading to improved study habits.

“The impact is big. We have study time for students for two hours every night. They have a chance to concentrate on studies and increase their performance and compete in this global village,” Merciless says. The solar lights are just the latest improvement to the school. World Vision has also worked with Hoops for Hope and the computer company Intel to install a computer lab in the school in the past. “We are learning a lot of things,” Judith says. “This can happen at any time because we have electricity.”

Already, Merciless says, the school has seen a spike in enrollment requests. Parents want to bring their children to have an improved education. “With all these developments, there has been a big improvement in terms of students’ performance now and we are confident that the students in this school will perform much better than even students in urban areas,” Merciless adds.

Merciless says if World Vision, Hoops of Hope and Intel did not come to their aid, there would have been so many difficulties for the school. Judith agrees. She believes she’s getting the best education possible, in all of Zambia. “We really appreciate all what you have done for us,” she says, adding later that, “The infrastructure that has been provided will also benefit the generation coming after us.”

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