Road of Hope: Frequently Asked Questions
Children in a context like Malawi face many challenges, one of these being Education. The education system in the country allows children to follow primary school education (almost) for free. In order to progress from primary school to a secondary school, a child has to pass an exam in the final grade. Passing rates can be shockingly low: we’ve come across situations in which less than 40% of children were able to pass the exam and continue to secondary school. In this way, many children remain stuck at this level of education and have no choice but to move into farming or fishing, with linked volatile income for the rest of their lives.
The main reason for the abovementioned low passing rates is in the high teacher/student ratio, which obviously results in lower quality of education. Building more schools and assuming more teachers is a logical solution to this issue, but also resulting slow and challenging in reality.
Organizing late afternoon/evening classes, to have more time for teaching and explanation, has empirically proven to help increase learning results and consequently the exam results and passing rates to secondary schools. Implementing this is only possible when there is lighting in the classroom, which is most often not the case as most of the rural primary schools have is no access to electricity.
This is where solar power comes in as a solutions, due to the fact it can generate electricity in the most isolated and rural locations. Also for (primary) schools, a solar system (with a small battery) offers a perfect solution for lighting, therewith enabling evening teaching in a classroom.
Our first aim is to install a solar-lighting system at 30 primary schools across rural parts of Malawi.
We have used the conservative number of 70 children per final grade class. When afternoon/evening teaching takes place, this happens for an average of 2.3 hours, combined with an assumed two days per week and 39 weeks per year. The conservative assumption for lifetime of the system is 5 years.
This makes that per school, over the lifetime of the system, 350 children will benefit from 180 additional education hours during their exam year. For the 30 schools we envision to provide with a system, this means an estimated 10.500 children will benefit from a very total of roughly 27 thousand additional teaching hours.
We will cooperate with the Head teachers, or in some cases the District Head of Education, to receive statistical information/impact on study results in the future.
For this project we will work with simple, ‘plug-and-play’ solar-lighting systems. This means installation is fairly easy and quick and so is replacement of a part should this be necessary. These systems have practically no maintenance need and come with a warranty from the manufacturer should there be any malfunctioning in the first years of operation.
Installation of the systems will be carried out by skilled local contractors, with presence in the district the schools are located.
At the beginning of this year, we learned about educational in Malawi and the challenges related to this. We’ve seen first hand how many children struggle to pass on to secondary school, while this is such a ‘natural’ step
in the western world. Based on our observations and the stories we have heard, we formed a picture in our heads of education as a road: a Road of Hope. The more steps one can take on this road, the more reason one has to
hope and believe in being able to ‘construct’ a future for him- or herself. A future with things that we easily regard as ‘obvious’, even if they are not: a stable job, decent income, fulfilling work, a career. A future with
choices, where one doesn’t automatically end up depending on the volatile income from fishing or farming.
In particular the step from primary to secondary school is a fundamental step on the ‘Road of Hope’, which we aim to make possible through this project, by application of solar power.