Energy access remains a central challenge for digital education in rural areas. Most rural schools will not have enough power to run computers due to several reasons: no back up, poor quality back up, not enough power from grid to charge batteries, or inefficient computers (such as old CRT monitors and CPUs). Thus, rural education currently lacks multimedia content due to lack of adequate technology, theft and power cuts.

In contrast, the Digital Education intervention enables rural schools to be independent of grid malfunctioning with solar-backed computers, to set up an energy-efficient ‘solar computer lab,’ or venture into digital education for the first time. Interventions for digital education are tailored to the schools’ needs and priorities. An example of this is the portable solar projector system, which makes multimedia education accessible and effective. The projector is energy efficient and by being portable, more impactful and safer against thefts (as teachers can take it home to safeguard)

Note: Specific information of the Solar Projector component of Digital Education may be found in the last section of this page.

Model
digital education photo

An inaugurated computer lab

Powering computers in Government Higher Primary Schools (GHPS) in Kolar region with solar energy to run the Digital Education program entails establishing a long-term relationship with community stakeholders (below), as well as oversight of the program and technology performance.

  • School administration
  • Faculty or hired teacher
  • Parents

Target schools have between 65 – 265 students from lower income backgrounds, and suffer from unreliable grid performance and access.

Target schools face at least 3 hours power cuts during the school day, and their students come from underprivileged backgrounds, castes or lower income groups hailing from interior parts of the country.  Students of the age group 12 – 16 are usually the beneficiaries. SELCO Foundation directly reaches out to rural schools and education NGOs to enhance their programmes with multimedia aid.

Technology
Computer class

A computer class taking place

Technology under this intervention is Solar PV-based, and thus includes customized for the following purposes:

  • Powering portable DVDs
  • Powering Computers (including highly energy efficient computing systems)
  • Powering Solar Portable Projectors

The technology is centred on the solar systems (PV Panels, Battery, cable, fittings) to power the digital technology at hand. Computer technology may be previously owned by schools, donated by technology companies or NGOs for which the solar system may be tailored, or according to schools’ needs, the Digital Education program may require no additional technology support, but coordination and oversight support from the part of SELCO Foundation.

Financing

The costs vary quite widely depending on the type of solution. As an indicative cost, the energy efficient computer lab powered by solar energy costs around Rs. 35,000 per seat.

The beneficiary schools are normally asked to put in 50% of the project cost and school and the rest is funded by donors of SELCO Foundation. The Foundation in turn, helps structure and design the financing of the program where families may pay a small monthly fee for classes that require hiring outside faculty, or where the institution covers expenses according to ability.

Impact

There are approximately 50-180 beneficiaries through each school implementation of the program. Digital Education focuses on making technology accessible and functional for educational purposes. Although there is a clear impact on children’s skill development, some of the education content is not directly implemented by SELCO Foundation.

Solar-Powered Projector

solar projector education

School administrators testing the solar-powered projector

Rural education currently lacks multimedia content due to lack of adequate technology, theft and power cuts. In response, Selco Foundation’s portable solar projector system makes multimedia education accessible and effective. The projector is energy efficient and by being portable, more impactful and safer against thefts (as teachers can take it home to safeguard). As part of Selco’s initiatives in the education sector, we are implementing a portable solar projector tool for rural education.

Partners

Target schools face at least 3 hours power cuts during the school day, and their students come from underprivileged backgrounds, castes or lower income groups hailing from interior parts of the country.  Students of the age group 12 – 16 are usually the beneficiaries.

Selco Foundation directly reaches out to rural schools and education NGOs to enhance their programmes with multimedia aid, although this technology is also compatible to the Integrated Energy Centre platform.

Technology
  • Projector (Power efficient: 25 Watts, resolution 1280 * 800)
    dhar (28)

    Children become familiar with the technology

  • Solar system (panel, 12V portable battery, charge controllers, connections)

The system has a central charging station, where the teachers can charge the battery, and then carry it along with the projector to classes.

The projector’s in-built software can recognize standard audio, video and text files. The projector can also be connected to laptops, android PCs and USB memory sticks and can run continuously for about 4 hours if the battery is fully charged. Hence, this is a very good solution in rural schools, where there are power cuts for about 3-4 hours during the school day. These solar powered LED projectors are also light-weight and hence, easy to carry from one location to the other. Its affordable price also makes it especially suitable for schools with limited resources.

The solar portable projector system comes with a warranty for 2 years and one-year free service.

Financing

The solar portable projector cost ranges approximately from Rs. 52,000 to Rs. 60,000 (inclusive of projector, panel, batteries, charge controller and warranties), for which Selco Foundation works with the institution for adequate financing based on available resources.

Impact

The project’s major impact lies in offering better education resources and infrastructure, and increased mobility and  reach of a larger group of students.

As of Nov 2013, 7 Projectors had been given out, reaching approximately 700 students in villages in and around Dharwad and Yadgir district, with the goal of piloting 10 projectors and reaching a total of 1,000 students from various villages across South India, and tracking for impact.