Students in 58 rural schools in Senegal were recently introduced to a brighter kind of library — a library of solar lights – thanks to an innovative Light Library campaign for schools located in off-grid communities from SolarAid, a London-based international charity that provides renewable energy solutions for poverty and addressing climate change.
Designed and delivered by SunnyMoney, a social enterprise from SolarAid, in partnership with the Senegalese Rural Electrification Agency (ASER), the Light Library Project allows students to borrow solar lanterns from a library of solar lights.
“The solar light has changed our opinion. At the beginning we didn’t believe in it, but after using it we see that this is something very interesting to experience,” said Sada Ndiaye, a parent.
Children and their families are able to experience a cleaner and more affordable source of lighting and a safer and better quality learning environment for the children at school and at home. “[The Library] has played a very important role in the school because it urges parents to bring their children to school,” said Babcar Ndome, Headteacher at a Light Library school.
The schools that received the Light Libraries were chosen based on their lack of electricity, the relatively large student body, and the regions’ high poverty rate. “[The parents] are very satisfied because some of them could not afford to give their flashlight to their children every time they needed it to do their homework,” said Landing Djiba, Headteacher at one of the Light Library schools.
Funded by Lighting Africa, the Light Library project aims to increase awareness of and access to solar lights in off-grid rural areas: “Thanks to it, the children study longer at night, the enrolment rate has increased and the results are better too,” said Thierno Sow, another Headteacher at a Light Library school.
So far, a total of 4,798 lights were made available to the Ministry of Education and managed by the schools, giving 6,115 students direct access to the lights and reaching nearly 55,000 people.
The Energy Access Practitioner Network promotes universal access to modern energy services in support of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All initiative. With a 2,000-strong global network of businesses and non-profits operating in 170 countries, the Energy Access Practitioner Network focuses on decentralized sustainable household and community-level electrification. It supports innovative financial and business models in predominantly market-based applications that help address development issues such as income generation, health, agriculture, education, small business, and telecommunications. The Energy Access Practitioner Network is an initiative of the United Nations Foundation.