The possibilities for implementing solar power lie beyond just providing electricity or heat for your home or business. The large multinational corporation, Samsung, saw the long-term potential in solar energy and how it could be incorporated into the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiative and philanthropic efforts. The collaborative result was a Solar-powered Internet School, a mobile classroom complete with laptops and tablets enabled with internet, video Wi-Fi cameras, and a 50-inch electronic blackboard, all powered by solar panels.
This innovative classroom fits into the space of a 12-meter-long shipping container large enough for 21 students and a teacher and includes a ventilation system to keep a bearable climate for optimal learning. The complete curriculum for each grade is also kept stored on the central computer file server which gives the teacher direct access to the resources to teach any subject or grade.
Electrification is one of Africa’s biggest economical struggles that definitely extend to affect teachers and students in the classroom, or lack thereof. The Solar-powered Internet School is designed to provide stable electricity to power the classroom equipment for up to nine hours a day, and for one and a half days without any sunlight at all, using foldaway panels made of rubber so they are resilient enough for international shipping. Because of the container design, the classroom can be easily transported by truck to reach rural areas of Africa where there is minimal access to power, while withstanding harsh weather conditions.
The first pilot run of the Solar-powered Internet School was done at the Samsung Engineering Academy in Boksburg back in October 2011. With that success, the company moved down to Johannesburg to officially kick off the project. Their claim of expanding to reach other rural parts of Africa was no falsity. Just this week Nandan Nair, Samsung Electronics Business Leader for East and Central Africa, announced movement into Tanzania after signing an agreement with signing with local distributors and service providers.
Although the original intentions of the project were aimed toward educating Africa’s youth, use of the school doesn’t have to stop there. “The amount of power generated by the schools each day means they can be used beyond the traditional school day as an adult education center in the afternoons or a community center over weekends,” explained KK Park, president and chief executive officer of Samsung Electronics Africa. “We have set an ambitious goal for ourselves in Africa: to positively impact five million lives by 2015”.