Digital technology is believed to be able to better support teaching and learning by engaging and empowering the individual learner, compared to what is usually found in formal education settings which are not keeping up with the changing needs of students in a technologically driven world. The challenge, however, is that not everyone has the privilege of accessing electricity as and when they like. The map below depicts the percentage of the countries that does not have the luxury of having electricity (those areas not splashed in dark blue). In this article, we will be discussing more about education solution for schools without electricity.
UNESCO says that “Worldwide, an average of 69% of primary schools have power, falling to an average of around 34% for least developed countries.” To list the 10 worst countries : Sierra Leone 4%, Niger 5%, Burundi 9%, Madagascar 9%, Mali 16%, Burkina Faso 18%, Afghanistan 21%, Malawi 24%, Togo 24%, Cameroon 25%. To have a high standard of living, the country must invest in good education, and that should fundamentally be tackled first. Only with a high standard of living, can an incumbent country continuously ensure the students get proper education.
But what about those less developed parts of the world? Only 4 percent of primary schools in Sierra Leone had access to electricity, compared to China and Germany, where 100 percent of primary schools were reported to have access to electricity. These disadvantaged communities can be lifted out of extreme poverty with the help of education to bring about social mobility. The far reaching effects of a lack of electricity on education are the reduction of teaching and classroom materials. Unlike other children around the world, these students can’t access online resources to research on information valuable to their learning, or have online-based learning from home during emergencies like us during circuit breaker.
Closing them off from electricity, is like closing them off from the infinite possibilities of convenient learning. We often take for granted our ability to simply ask Google for answers, they don’t because they can’t. Can you imagine going to school to collect firewood or clean water for cooking, heating and drinking instead of attending class, preparing for an examination or completing homework assignments?
This hot button issue attracted us to crack an idea on how we can help. The Patatas came up with a project called the ‘CaseStudy’, which is our take on providing an education solution for schools without electricity.
The Patatas aim to bring online learning to places that don’t have access to electricity. By reducing the barrier to education, We hope to lead them to have healthier childhoods and ultimately, to greater economic prospects as they approach adulthood.
The Patatas is a local start-up which aims to use technology to make a difference in the under-represented communities. By collaborating with different partners, we create solutions for your specific needs in your community.
We reviewed and understood from past experience and eventually designed a cost-effective digital solution catered to communities that lack electricity, power and resources.
We understood that transportation was an issue, which is why we emphasized on the product being contained in a waterproof and shockproof ‘suitcase’. This ensures portability and durability of the technology inside.
The Pew Research Centre conducted a research which showed that 90 percent of the teachers surveyed felt that digital technologies were creating an “easily distracted generation with short attention spans.” However, this will definitely not be applicable to these children who never had a chance to experience digital learning. Instead, it would even increase motivation of the students and yield efficient results from the class. UNICEF created a scheme called “School-in-a-Box”, which targets getting children the education they require after emergency situations like natural disasters.
UNESCO ships out simple resources, like wooden teaching tools and biodegradable papers for students to write on. Although it is the faster way to resume education with simple resources, we need to engage children with the use of multimedia tools and better preparation in this digital age. As the world grapples with a technologically advanced development, we have to ensure that every child has the opportunity to gain information through different mediums so as to widen their scope of knowledge.
We aim to modernise teaching, with a portable charger, projector and the device that powered off this whole project – Raspberry Pi. This tiny device acts as a computer that stores large amounts of content ranging from videos, PowerPoint slides to PDFs that enriches the student’s learning, even without having connection to the Internet. Raspberry Pi and the projector are rechargeable using a portable charger, which is included in the CaseStudy prototype. You may be wondering how we can solve the issue of supplying electricity to that dainty device – we tap local renewable energy, which is usually the cheapest, fastest and most efficient solution, using innovative ways to power up our device.
Another highlight of CaseStudy is that you can potentially set up class anywhere as we use the projector as the main tool when engaging a larger audience. It also allows for night classes as it works best in dark conditions.
Here are just some of the many testimonials after one of our most successful project – Digi Eskwela. It is also another means to improve and introduce e-learning to the disadvantaged communities.
To change the educational landscape, technology can enhance the learning experience for younger students, especially ‘digital natives’ who grew up in a multi-sensory and multi-modal learning environment since they were young. According to Children International, “Education is one of the most powerful ways to reduce poverty and improve health, gender equality, peace and stability.”
Other than offering an education solution for schools without electricity, We hope to bring about a tailored learning outcome and improve literacy rates in rural areas like Legazpi that are susceptible to natural hazards such as flooding, typhoons, as well as volcanic and seismic activity.