First Installation in the TanzSolar Solar-Schools Program
Report Date: December 2012
TanzSolar has completed the first Solar-School Installation in the Mara region in northern Tanzania. The project provides solar-generated electricity to a rural school; the Tegaruka Secondary School. This school, like all secondary schools in the Mara region, had no electricity and no access to an electric grid.
This is the first of many such planned installations, and was completed through the support of the US organizations Africa Solar Fund, Friends Foundation International, Kansha Foundation and the Clio Paul Foundation.
There is an education crisis in Tanzania, with only a small percentage of students who attend primary school going on to secondary school, and even those students are not receiving an adequate education in secondary school. Nationally approximately 440,000 students start secondary school in Form 1 and only approximately 20,000 make it to the final year of secondary school, finishing Form 6 (source). That’s less than 5%. One of the primary reasons given by the teachers locally is that the students have no way to study in the evenings.
One report concludes “The biggest challenges facing these (public secondary) schools, whose students are mostly from poor families, include acute shortage of teachers, laboratories and books of all categories.” Tanzania Daily News,19 MAY 2012.
TanzSolar has performed a survey of several rural secondary schools in the Mara region, and has concluded that one of the highest impact strategies is to bring electricity and, eventually, internet access to these rural schools. The severe lack of qualified teachers is due, in part, to the remote locations and lack of services at these schools. Many of the teachers are housed on-campus with no access to power, not even enough to charge their mobile phones.
TanzSolar has provided a central photovoltaic system with batteries for storage and an advanced, internet-enabled inverter and charging system for the campus. This equipment is powering lights in 2, large classrooms for evening study and community events. There is security lighting for the campus as well as lights and outlets in the administrative office and the teachers lounge. In addition TanzSolar has installed smaller PV power systems for the teachers domiciles, providing LED lights and cell phone charging.
Mr. Mahende Matiku, assistant headmaster of Tegaruka Secondary School, has said that the entire community is very, very happy with the solar electric systems installed at their school. Now we will all be watching to see how the students test scores and teacher retention are impacted by this technological transformation.