The main purpose of this visit is to install solar power in three remote rural schools- Dibbwi, Nashongo and Manchamvwa Inland.
We will also hold 6 training sessions on a variety of topics. One day will be concerned with explaining how to refurbish an old PC or laptop. We have donated a large number of PCS thanks to the help of Operation Sunshine in shipping them for us. We will be demonstrating how to add a new hard drive and install an operating system.
Follow our progress daily here
Visit to Monze June 2018
We visited Monze District to install solar power at two schools on behalf of Friends of Monze.
This rural school was built by Friends of Monze. It is a standard design school consisting of 3 classrooms and a head teacher office. It has no mains power. Our purpose was to install two 320W solar Panels and two 220Amh Batteries to provide power.
We expected to be using the vehicle belonging to the Ministry of Education – a Land Cruiser that can cope well off-road. Due to a mix-up we had no land cruiser. A local boarding school stepped in to provide a lorry!
Members of the local community helped get the panels on the roof and connected to the batteries. They mounted the solar controller, fuse box and battery gauge neatly on a piece of wood. The solar set up was complete.
The school can use solar power to charge laptops, run a projector and have LED lighting. We also installed a Raspberry Pi computer which acts as a wireless hotspot and delivers an off-line learning resource called RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning). This resource contains a vast amount of learning materials to help teachers research unfamiliar subjects, prepare lessons and present them via the projector. It can be accessed via any wireless enabled device.
Some women from the PTA spent a lot of time looking at health guides and at African storybooks.
An enterprising local barber turned up with his clippers and gave Howard a haircut! He had immediately seen the potential of solar power.
Friends of Monze have just completed the building of a 3 classroom school and teacher’s house in the very remote village of Mwiinga Malimvwa.
Villagers made the bricks and provided the labour. Nine young people were trained as apprentice bricklayers on the project. All completed the qualification including three young women.
Giakonda Solar Schools installed two solar panels to provide power for LED lighting, laptops and a projector. We also set up RACHEL on a Raspberry Pi so that the school has a large learning resource.
Visit to Siavonga March 2018
Between 27th February and 17th March, we installed solar power at three schools in Siavonga District; Syakalinda, Manchamvwa Lakeshore Primary School and Munyama Primary School. Each installation consisted of two 320W solar panels, two 220Amh batteries, the necessary cables and connectors, a fuse box and fuses, a solar controller and battery gauge. This powers laptops, LED strip lights, a router and the Raspberry Pi computer. The Raspberry PI computer is a wireless hotspot from which laptops, tablets or smart phones can access the offline learning resources of RACHEL.
We held three teacher training days at Siavonga High School (on Solar Installation, Code club and Programming and Networking and Network Maintenance) and two training sessions with SHS pupils where they learnt about Scratch and Python Programming. We also held training sessions in Monze and Chilanga Districts.
Visit to Siavonga Autumn 2017
We’ve just returned from another successful visit to Siavonga, Southern District, Zambia where we have been working for three years providing solar power and computer resources to rural schools.
This time we were a party of seven; Howard and Wendy Kirkman of Giakonda Solar Schools, Sian Penticost, primary school teacher; Luke Brereton IT student; Jason Brown, software engineer; Adele Stuart linguist and teacher of English as a second language(TESL) and Malcolm Boorer, videographer.
We had set ourselves various tasks, chief of which was that of providing solar power to Kawila School. We are very grateful to The Waterloo Foundation whose funding grant made this possible.
We installed two solar panels and two deepcycle batteries with the necessary fusebox and controller.
With help from staff and enthusiastic community members, this was achieved in a day. The school now has four laptops, LED lighting, a projector, and access to offline learning resources.
Our videographer, Malcolm Boorer captured the events on film which you can see here.
We ran a series of training courses for teachers and system administrators, all of which were well attended and well received. They included very practical sessions to enable people to get to grips with the hardware and software supplied.
We installed Synology DiskStation servers in three large schools. Networked computers can access RACHEL offline learning resource and staff can set up users to access and store information securely.
We visited a series of schools to troubleshoot any small issues that had arisen in the past few months.
Download a copy of our report by clicking below
How it all started
In autumn 2014, Swansea Siavonga Partnership (Part of Swansea University Discovery Student volunteering project) approached us to build a website for them. During conversations about their work, we were asked if we would travel with them to Siavonga, Zambia to set up computers. When we agreed, they dropped the bombshell – some of the schools had no mains power!
This led us to develop a solution using solar power and Raspberry Pi computers. These have the functionality of a PC but are small, inexpensive and run on 5V. As well as using them for office applications and to teach programming, we added an offline learning resource called RACHEL. This stands for Rural Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning. It provides an immense amount of information particularly useful for rural schools and the wider community they serve.
On that first visit to Zambia in January 2015, we set up ten Raspberry Pi computers in Siavonga, Zambia, four of them in two schools which had no electricity. To achieve that we used deep cycle lorry batteries and solar panels which we purchased in Lusaka with a grant from S & C Electric Europe. Donations from family, friends and supporters helped us buy additional equipment such as connectors, cables and tools. Read the report of our January 2015 Project here.
In July 2015 we spent another month in Zambia consolidating the work and extending the project. Our focus was on making the project sustainable by training teachers and an IT technician (Bridget Muyuni).This time our sponsors were University of Wales Trinity St Davids
Read our July 2015 report here.
In February 2016 we sent our technician Connor to Zambia to work alongside Bridget to extend her IT skills so that she can better support the schools in Siavonga when we are not there. Unfortunately we have not yet managed to get her a visa to travel here for further training. He was able to carry on setting up more hubs of Raspberry Pi computers and dealing with more difficult technical issues. Thanks to Hub Cymru Africa (http://hubcymruafrica.cymru/hub/newsarchive.html) for sponsorship. Find out more about Connor’s trip from BBC Wales.
Summer 2016 brought us another grant from S & C Electric Europe.
With the money we bought solar panels, battery and all the necessary equipment to provide solar power to an additional school, Dambilo. Thanks to having helped Howard set up panels at another school, Philemon Chikoondo, the head teacher,was able to set up the equipment himself.
In Autumn 2016 we sent off 8 solar panels which were kindly donated by SolarPlants of Baglan Bay, Swansea .
In February / March 2017 we spent three busy weeks in Zambia, during which time we installed solar power in four schools (Game, Katalumba, Namumu and Sianyoolo), thanks to the donation of the panels and a grant from Hub Cymru Africa.
School staff and members of the local community all helped
install the panels under Howard’s watchful eye.
The system should need little maintenance if used properly.
We delivered five teacher training days to help improve staff competence and confidence with IT.
In three schools which already have power we upgraded their computer networks. We set up two of them to share RACHEL learning resource via two DiskStation NAS servers kindly donated by Synology UK
Download a detailed report here