Solar Powered Classrooms Offer Rural African Children a Chance

Blogger’s Note: What better way to use alternative energy technology than to brighten the future of a child. That is exactly what a collaboration of organizations is doing. They developed the Digi-Truck. Not only is it recycling old shipping containers but it is offering children in rural Africa an opportunity to peer into a world of technology that they might have never been exposed to. A recent article from discusses how this technology is bringing a much brighter future to these rural communities. 

Shipping container-turned-digital-classroom, this vehicle helps to educate African children in impoverished areas. The exclusively solar-powered, mobile and completely independent classroom is geared towards increasing accessibility to education and connectivity across Africa,” said Shin. “It is designed specifically for use in remote areas with limited or no access to electricity.

In this digital day and age, one can only sigh in disbelief that digital literacy is inaccessible to children in Africa, particularly the remote areas where infrastructure is lacking. Close the Gap, in partnership with Arrow Electronics and Hoops for Hope, made the Digi-Truck, a solar-powered truck that serves as a digital classroom to teach students about digital literacy.

The Digi-Truck aims to combat two issues. The first is the absence of electricity and communication lines in the remote areas. The solution? Putting solar panels on top of the truck that will provide several days of power for the classroom. The other issue is being able to teach the kids how to use digital technology. Hence, the truck is equipped with 20 laptops, a LED screen, two routers and a printer that will give the kids hands-on experience. Eighteen students can be accommodated at a time.

Moreover, the beauty of the Digi-Truck is its mobility. In fact, the Digi-Truck is actually made of a 40 ft. shipping container put on top of a trailer. This way, the truck can go from one remote area to another without transferring the parts of the digital classroom piece-by-piece. It is designed with insulation, bolted window shutters, LED lighting and steel doors. Additionally, if there’s no school that day, the truck can also double as a health center or a cyber café.

The Digi-Truck project was launched in January 2014 and has served different rural communities in Africa. It is currently in the Village of Rau in the Kilimanjaro Region where it provides a digital learning environment for 80 orphans from the Neema International-supported Tuleeni orphanage. By 2016, the Digi-Truck will move to a new location. However, all current equipment will be donated to the Tuleeni orphanage and the truck will be supplied anew.

Oliver Vanden Eynde, Founder of Close the Gap said:

“More than 75 percent of the population in Africa live in rural communities where infrastructure presents a huge barrier. Modern information and communication technologies, coupled with solar-powered solutions like the DigiTruck, are able to help bridge this digital divide and to bring quality training and education to remote communities.”

It’s hard not to admire the efforts of these organizations to bridge the gap and still deliver education to children who need it.