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Zambia visit

Category : News , solarpower , zambia

We’re busy planning our next visit to Zambia in February when we will be installing SolarPanels in 3 rural schools and carrying out a lot of teacher training.

panels are upnetworking course

Can anyone support us by donating routers and / or access points? We use these to extend access to the vast offline resources of RACHEL on a RaspberryPi server. They do not have to be superfast 10/100 is alright.

Raspberry Pi with RACHELPupils using RACHEL

We’re also still looking for unwanted hard drives (laptop or PC) for refurbishing equipment to take out to schools with power.

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Welcome new trustees

Category : News , zambia

A big welcome to our two new trustees, Jason and Malcolm. Far from deterring them, their visit with us to Zambia in September made them both keen to get more involved.

We’re delighted to have them on board.

At the moment we’re busy refurbishing laptops and PCs for transport to Zambia in the New Year. Quite a monumental task but it’s all in a great cause!

Schools there have very few resources and so every extra PC counts. We network them together to share offline learning resources.

Fujitsu laptopFujitsu desktop

If you have any hard drives to donate, we’d be very grateful. We can forensically wipe them before installing a new operating system. Contact us on



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Thanks Hub Cymru Africa

Category : News , zambia

We are very grateful to Hub Cymru Africa for the award of a further funding grant. Plans are underway for a visit to Zambia in February 2018.

We intend to use the grant to provide solar panels to three more rural schools in the Siavonga District of Southern Zambia. Two of them are particularly remote and accessible only via boat which promises to be an interesting challenge.

We will supply solar panels and deep cycle batteries. Solar power will allow the schools to run LED lighting, laptop computers, a projector and a Raspberry Pi computer acting as a server to provide learning resources to any wifi enabled devices. The learning resources come in the form of a 64GB microsd card loaded with RACHEL (Remote Aea Community Hotspot for Education and Learning).

This includes thousands of works of literature;  African story books;  articles, lesson plans and videos on science and maths; practical advice on health and agriculture for rural communities; wikipedia for schools. It’s a fantastic offline tool for teaching and learning, ideal where internet is unavailable or too expensive. In addition, teachers like the fact that pupils are protected from the dangers of being online.

content of learning resource RACHEL supplied thanks to Hub Cymru Africa

Read more about our projects so far.

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Lusaka National Museum

Category : News , zambia

Statue at Lusaka National Museum

On our last full day in Zambia we paid a visit to Lusaka National Museum.

At the entrance was the imposing statue of AntiRetroviral Man which stands 8m tall and weighs 2000kg.

The ARM statue is made out of old hospice beds on which thousands of people have died of AIDS. It is modelled after Winstone Zulu, Zambia’s late AIDs activist. The statue was unveiled by the widow of Mr. Zulu on World Aids Day 2011 during a 2-week exhibition in the Lusaka National Museum. The exhibition attracted more than 1500 visitors.

Anti-retroviral man at Lusaka national Museum

HIV remains a major problem in Zambia with 1.2million people living with HIV in 2016.

  • The HIV prevalence rate among adults in Zambia has changed little over the last decade despite decreasing infection rates Zambia.
  • Despite the county’s high prevalence rate, there are significantly low rates of HIV knowledge among the general population.
  • Life expectancy among people living with HIV in Zambia has improved significantly as a result of scaled up treatment programmes.
  • Among adults who have been able to access ART in Zambia, over half are now virally suppressed.
History of Zambia

Upstairs were displays of archaeology and history, none of which refelct well on Britain. The prime exhibit of early Homo, a skull of Broken Hill or Kabwe man, was a replica- the original being in the British Museum!

kabwe man skull

There were exhibits reflecting the slave trade and the struggle of Zambia for independence, plus political changes up to the present day.

Zambian village life was illustrated with models and we have seen most of it for real in our trips to remote schools.

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Chilanga Primary School

Category : News , solarpower , zambia

On our way to Lusaka at the start of our homeward journey, we called at Chilanga Primary School, a very large school catering for many vulnerable children. The computers had been moved from their normal hub to the library so that they could be spaced out for the Grade 9 ICT Practical exams. The IT teacher, Joel had made a good job of this.

Chilanga Primary School libraryChilanga Primary School setting up Synology

Our purpose this time was to install a Synology DiskStation to deliver RACHEL to all PCs on the network. Howard and Joel worked together on this and Joel also had some practice on making and testing network cables. When all the PCs are moved back on Monday, the system should be fine. We were not quite sure that the DiskStation hard drive was functioning perfectly so have bought a replacement which can work alongside.

Chilanga Primary School We could access RACHEL resource from the Synology DiskStation via iPhone or any other wireless device and when cabled, all the PCs will access it too.

On Saturday morning we visited ABESU Women’s Cooperative at Chongwe. We had arranged to check out their solar set up along with two technicians from Muhunya Solar. The community was 6Km up a dirt road off the main road. They had ten solar panels which were very dusty and were no longer functioning efficiently. The technicians looked at the controllers and inverter and everything was as should be. They were using eight batteries and these seemed to be the problem. Either they had not been fully charged before initial use, or too many appliances had been connected to the system so that they were not keeping charged above 50%.


chongwe batterieschongwe abesu

Our handy technicians checked over the generator that was driving the water pump and advised what action needed to be taken there.


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Kariba Secondary School and SNG

Category : News , zambia

Nearly time to head back to Lusaka, but first some final tasks to do at Kariba Secondary School and SNG.

Kariba is a large school and the computer room has twenty stand-alone PCs. Our task was to network these PCs and connect them with the Synology DiskStation we supplied. All pupils will then be able to access RACHEL learning resource as well as printing centrally to a networked printer.

We got members of staff involved making the network cables!

kariba secondarykariba secondary

kariba secondarykariba secondary

All that remained was a final get-together with the Board of SNG, (Siavonga Nutrition Group our partners). They expressed appreciation for our  project and we talked about we can continue to work together for the benefit of the whole community. They are a useful conduit to the newly appointed District Education Board Secretary.

with SNG Board members

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RACHEL for Resource Centre

Category : News , zambia

Today we set up RACHEL in Siavonga Resource Centre. It’s situated in the grounds of Siavonga Primary School and used for meetings of teachers from around the district. Out of school hours, members of the community are able to bring their own laptops in and study from a small range of books.

The librarian Rex Moonga keeps a log of those who come in and the books they use.

We installed a Raspberry Pi with RACHEL. It will be kept in his office for security, but is accessible via any wireless devices in the Resource Centre and in the nearest classroom.

Raspberry Pi with RACHEL

Mr Moonga will put signs up around the room to show how to log in to RACHEL and will get a new log book to record those who access it, what subjects they look for and any comments they make. This will help us monitor how the general community uses it.

In future we will supply up to five laptops so that learners can enjoy the resource even if they don’t have their own computer.

We are gradually supplying Raspberry Pi with RACHEL to as many schools and community areas as we can. If you would like to support our project, a donation of £80 will purchase one. A donation of £50 will let us refurbish a laptop with a new hard drive.

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Category : News

Since 2015 Giakonda Solar Schools have been providing RACHEL  (freely available here) via Raspberry Pi computers to rural schools in Siavonga District, Southern Province, Zambia.

Schools in Zambia have many challenges including large class sizes, very few resources and expensive, erratic or non-existent mains electricity. We identified twenty six schools of the thirty five government schools in the District as having no access to mains power. (This despite Siavonga lying on the northern shore of Lake Kariba with its huge hydro electric station!)

Our solution was to install solar panels and batteries and supply laptops and a Raspberry Pi with RACHEL on 64GB sd card. LED lights were also a welcome addition. The Head Teacher of Sianyoolo Primary school commented, “We have lights, we have learning resources. Now we are a real school.”

We have also provided RACHEL to five larger powered schools via a Synology DiskStation server and networked computers to access the resource. It has made a great difference to teachers and pupils alike. Feedback from teachers has included comments like;

“I was able to complete the assignments for my Master’s degree using RACHEL”;

“It helps me plan lessons and check up on anything I’m not sure of”;

“It is better using an offline resource because the internet is expensive and we can’t always access it. Also pupils are not distracted by things like FaceBook.”

using RACHELRACHEL training

Pupils are keen to use it because they are able to do personal research and find things not available in their textbooks.

They even joke that they are “going to see RACHEL!”

Pupils using RACHELboys using RACHEL

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Training Zambian teachers

Category : News , zambia

On each visit we ensure that we make time for training Zambian teachers who are always eager to extend their knowledge and skills.

So it turned out to be not the best timed visit to Siavonga. Although term had officially begun children seemed to be slowly trickling back over the first few weeks and teachers were busy planning for exams in November. Nevertheless, they were as keen as ever to attend training and offered very positive feedback.

As our volunteers included primary school teacher Sian, we took advantage of her experience to deliver a course on Basic Excel at Siavonga Primary School. Many of the attendees were from that school, some new to using Excel, but all picked it up quickly and thought it would be useful for their own record-keeping as well as teaching pupils. They loved the visual aids she made.

training zambian teacherstraining zambian teachers

Sian also taught English Composition to a small class again with a laminated guide.
Teachers are able to download some learning resources from our website Learning resources

Computer-based training took the form of four day courses.
First was IT Security and System Maintenance. Howard stressed the importance of running Avast , Malwarebytes and CCleaner to protect networks from infection from connection to the internet or use of insecure USB drives.

For the larger schools we ran a course on Setting up and Using Synology Diskstation. This piece of equipment allows for sharing of files and access to a wealth of learning resources.

A vital course for all schools was that on Using the offline resource RACHEL across the Curriculum. RACHEL stands for Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning and is available from http://worldpossible.org/. Teachers particularly enjoyed having time to search RACHEL for topics relevant to their subjects.

Our final course was on Networking and Network Maintenance. This involved as much hands-on experience as possible. Being able to repair ethernet cables will be very helpful in keeping computer systems working.

Synology DiskStation at Siavonga High Schooltraining zambian teachers

training zambian teachers

Over 40 teachers attended from 10 schools, despite the long distances involved for some.

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Solar Power for Kawila

Category : News , solarpower , zambia

The main purpose of this visit to Zambia was to install solar power via solar panels at Kawila Primary School, giving them power for the first time. This is a remote school which serves 15 surrounding villages.

We were greeted by staff, pupils and members from the local villages. Philemon also came over from Dambilo School to help.

volunteers with Philemon

Everyone lent a hand right from the start. They soon understood what was needed to check out and connect the panels, then sort out the battery.

kit for solar power installationsetting up panels to give solar power

setting up kitPTA member crimping with Howard

internal solar power kitinternal control panel

We even mounted the panels on the roof thanks to a couple of intrepid village lads.

panels are up - solar power at last

The solar panels and batteries provide a robust sustainable solution for schools such as Kawila. We have previously installed solar power at two other schools in the area (Dambilo and Sianyoolo) and hope they will be able to support each other.

Next we shared a drink made from maize and sugar followed by a delicious lunch of nshima, rape leaves and chicken.

Adele and Sian spent some time with the pupils while Malcolm interviewed and filmed staff, helpers and PTA members.

Sian teaching Well Done!adele with group of kids

When we left, the solar panels were powering LED lights, a router, a projector and a Raspberry Pi3 with RACHEL offline learning resource. We also gave the school three laptops.

After a successful day, all that remained was to get some thick cloth from the local market to block out the sunlight.

curtainschildren at school

We were able to complete this part of our project thanks to a grant from The Waterloo Foundation. Muhunya Solar of Lusaka helped with advice on the solar power set up, also donating some of the cables.