Solar power can dramatically improve children’s academic performance

In 2017, I traveled to rural Tanzania to install solar panels at a primary school forty minutes by car outside of the city of Mbeye, not far from the border with Malawi. The school was in a small village beside a river from which water was collected for drinking, bathing, and washing purposes, but it had no electricity whatsoever. A few teachers resided in a small dormitory beside the school.

After two days of working with the students, teachers, and family members I traveled with to the site, including a cousin who works for a wonderful non-governmental group called Africa Bridge and who invited me to Tanzania, we installed solar panels on a school building and the dormitory and lit up both structures.

Several months later, my cousin visited the school to see how the solar system was doing and learned that six teachers who used to live 45 minutes away from the school during the week moved to the school to live because of the newly installed lights and solar power. The result was that, with the teachers spending much more time at the school than before, the students there went from being in the bottom 10 of 144 schools in the district to the top 10 schools in terms of test results.

School room with lights powered by solar panels

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