Author Archives: wendyk

June Visit

Category : News

Can’t believe we’ve been home for four weeks already! It was a very successful visit on all fronts and we’ve been busy organising information and writing reports ever since.

Feedback from schools in Zambia has been consistently positive, however after 4 years of work there, it was  time to review our activities and gain a fuller understanding of the impact of them. We set out to do this monitoring exercise with the support of The Waterloo Foundation.

We visited all 14 solar schools which have received solar panels thanks to one of the following donors:
University of Wales Trinity St Davids
S&C Electric
Hub Cymru Africa
Solar Plants
The Waterloo Foundation
Wales For Africa

Read our report here.

Also on this trip, we installed solar panels at Malimba School on behalf of Friends of Monze and held training sessions in Monze and Chilanga Districts.


A busy week training in Chilanga

Category : zambia

We spent our last week in Zambia training teachers in the Chilanga area just south of Lusaka. 29 teachers from 12 different schools attended and participated wholeheartedly.

The first day was devoted to considering big questions. What is ICT / Computer Studies / Digital Literacy? Why should it be taught? What is its application across the whole curriculum?

Why teach ICTimportance of ICT

Other sessions included tips and shortcuts in Word Processing and spreadsheets from Libre Office; RACHEL learning resources; and Kolibri pupil monitoring platform. A Special Needs teacher explained how interested her pupils were in the videos on RACHEL and how it helped her teach things like Sign language. Another teacher discovered African Story Books in the local language Bembe.

training in ChilangaSEN teacherHoward showing Raspberry PiAfrican Stories in Bembe

Teachers agreed that the RACHEL learning resources on Raspberry Pi server made teaching and learning easy and enjoyable. “Learners can get the concept more easily”. Many said they would share what they had learned with colleagues so that the training would benefit the whole school. One concluded “I am enjoying each day that passes. I cannot wait for tomorrow”.

 

 


Manchamvwa Inland School

Category : News , solarpower

Manchamvwa InlandManchamvwa Inland

This school is very remote and, as such, the teachers have particular challenges. There are 4 teachers who use smartphones as well as 5 school laptops. There are 216 pupils.
We installed solar power for them in February 2019 thanks to a grant from Welsh Government Wales for Africa Grants Scheme.

panels at manchamvwa Inlandsolar control at Manchamvwa ilandManchamvwa Inland batteriesManchamvwa Inland battery fuel gauge

It is functioning well and enabling them to charge the laptops, phones and a projector. They can keep LED lighting on at night for security.  After school hours, older pupils who live in the community but attend other schools come in to Manchamvwa Inland to study and complete homework thanks to the light and RACHEL learning resources.

The local residents are enjoying African Cup of Nations on TV and the local barber even comes in to cut hair, running his clippers from the solar power!


Syakalinda Primary School

Category : solarpower , zambia

Syakalinda Primary School is about 4KMs off the tarred road near Chaanga. The surrounding community relies on subsistence farming and charcoal burning. Pupils come from 9 different villages. The school caters from pre-school to Grade 7 with 7 teachers and 338 pupils.

Syakalinda school signSyakalinda Schoolschool surroundings Syakalindaschool flag Syakalinda

We installed solar panels in March 2018 thanks to a grant from Hub Cymru Africa

There were some slight issues with the solar setup but things were operating OK and teachers were making good use of the resources. They used the Raspberry Pi RACHEL server to prepare lessons for pupils, to address enquiries on agriculture from the local community and for their own personal development and research. The children manage to get hands on to the laptops occasionally too.

solar at SyakalindaSyakalinda staffSyakalinda classroompupils on laptop


Dibbwi Primary School

Category : solarpower , zambia

Dibbwi is a remote rural school in the Chaanga area which draws its pupils from 15 villages with an estimated population of 2350. The inhabitants are mainly subsistence farmers growing vegetables, maize, millet and sorghum. They also grow some cotton and sugar cane as a cash crop. Some keep cattle, sheep or pigs. When crops fail they turn to charcoal burning to raise cash.

charcoal burningvillagers

As you can see, the ground is dry and sandy. Our car got stuck and fortunately these ladies appeared from nowhere to help push!

Dibbwi Primary Schoolrear of school with panelsdibbwidibbwi

There are 260 pupils on roll, 101 girls and 160 boys. The head teacher estimates that there may be as many as 200 other children who do not attend school. There are 3 government teachers and 2 community volunteers.

We installed solar power in February 2019 thanks to a grant from Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa Grant Scheme.

WElsh Government Wales for Africa Scheme logo

We returned in June to monitor how all our solar schools are progressing. This was made possible by a grant from The Waterloo Foundation.

This school was making very good use of its solar power to charge  laptops  and the projector for about four hours each week day. The Head Teacher is using the resources to teach his teachers the basics in computers so that they can relay the information to their pupils. They have also made good use of Reading Aloud books. On this follow-up visit, we left an updated version of RACHEL containing African Story Books in Chitonga, the local language.

Dibbwi solardibbwi classroom

 


Kawila School

Category : News , solarpower

Kawila School was comparatively easy to reach i.e. we didn’t get stuck! The school was given solar power in September 2017 thanks to a grant from The Waterloo Foundation.

Kawila school signkawila school

Kawila school has 5 teachers including the Head Teacher, two of whom are studying for a degree in Computers. There is one unqualified teacher. 325 pupils come to school in three sessions. When not in lessons they enjoy the seesaw and a game that looked to me just like Duck Duck Goose (although they called it MerryGoRound.)

seesawMerry Go Round

The solar panels enable the school to charge laptops and phones. They use the lights occasionally when there are events in the evening.

Kawila classroomsolar at Kawila

They make use of the projector as a teaching aid and reported that it was bright enough for use in the classroom.

The most used units on RACHEL were African StoryBooks and Wikipedia to prepare and deliver lessons.

approach to kawilakawila


Sianyoolo School

Category : News

Sianyoolo is the local zone school. It runs from Grades 1 to 9 with a total of 600 pupils. The school received solar power in Feb 2017 thanks to a donation of panels by Solar Plants of Baglan Bay and other equipment  funded by Hub Cymru Africa.

Sianyoolo Schoolsianyoolo schoolsianyoolo school signsianyoolo solar kit

We saw Grade 9 pupils working on laptops preparing for practical ICT exams. This possible because they can charge them from the solar power.

working on laptopspupils with laptops

 


Nashongo Primary School

Category : solarpower , sponsors

Our  visit to Nashongo School was perhaps the most challenging so far. The ground is very dry and in parts it was like driving on soft sand. Our driver was not confident and kept getting stuck! Fortunately someone usually appeared out of the bush to help push.

The school catchment area covers 7 local villages with about 180 households. The local population survives by animal husbandry and growing staple crops like millet, maize and groundnuts. They also grow some cotton as a cash crop.

Nashongo Schoolwater pump Nashongonashongo groundsnashongo

There was one school building, a teacher’s house, a water pump and pit latrine toilets. There were 331 pupils (164 boys, 167 girls) taught by 4 trained teachers and 4 volunteers.

Nashongo had had some problems with the solar controller but they had made the system safe until our arrival, only using it for charging. We were able to swap out the solar controller for them and check out the set up.

checking solar at Nashongosolar Nashongo

Thanks to the solar power, staff use laptops every day but their skills are mainly confined to looking up information and word processing. One teacher knew how to use spreadsheets. The unqualified staff were very much beginners.

As regards the Raspberry Pi, they had used it to access African story books on RACHEL. We updated their Raspberry Pi with a version containing the African Story Books in the local language Chitonga. We also left a power bank which they could use if they wished to teach outside in the school grounds.

Thanks to the Welsh Government Wales for Africa Grant Scheme which enabled this school to have at their disposal all the benefits of solar power – lighting, charging equipment and accessing wonderful learning resources.

WElsh Government Wales for Africa Scheme logo


Visit to Chaanga area

Category : News , zambia

Several of the schools where we have installed solar panels over the last few years are situated in the Chaanga area of Siavonga. As this quite a distance from the town, we decided to stay in a lodging house in Chaanga itself. The surrounding scenery was stunning.

ChaangaChaangaChaangatoilet

It was an eye-opening experience. The room was clean and bed very comfortable but that was pretty much it in the way of amenities. The lady of the house made fritters from flour, salt, sugar and water to sell in the local market at an equivalent of 5p each.

cooking frittersfritters

Her children amused themselves by making bubbles by putting a hollow lollypop stick in the embers of a fire and blowing. Other children were working carrying water on their heads.

bubbleschildren carrying water

There was a local hospital with a maternity unit.

hospitalmaternity unit


Namumu School

Category : News

outside Namumu School

On 12th June we visited Namumu School. Children at Namumu School, like most of the rural schools in Siavonga District, receives food from the Zambian Government in the form of maize. The schools pay someone in the local community to boil it and that provides lunch each day. There is a shelter behind the school where children can eat. There is still a high degree of malnutrition and stunted growth in the area.

feeding areamaize

On 12th June we visited Namumu School. This school has now been connected to grid power. The solar equipment was in place but had been sidelined and the cables disconnected. Due to the fact that the cost of electricity is a drain on school resources, we intend to install a grid tie inverter and reinstate the solar set-up to feed into their grid.

 

solar controllersHT Namumu

head teachers room with PCsladies filling in questionnaire

We were pleased to see that the Raspberry Pi was turned on and was being used to access African Story Books and Wikipedia for Schools in particular. They had two PCs from the consignments of donated machines we sent out but were using  a laptop and teachers’ smartphones  to access the learning resources. Pupils occasionally used RACHEL independently. With a router, Namumu School will be able to network the PCs and use them to access RACHEL too.

Staff filled in our questionnaire for the impact assessment we are compiling thanks to a grant from The Waterloo Foundation