Solar Energy Advances Education in Afghanistan

The project provided solar panel to 220 girls’ schools.
Solar panels were installed at 220 girls schools in Afghanistan.
USAID
With reliable power source, computers and tablets help students learn
“Solar panels derive clean and pure energy from the sun and power our school, enabling us to use technology tools.”

May 2017—In the winter, walking into the Abubakar Sidiq Girls High School can almost feel like walking into a cave. Even this school, which is located in the relatively warmer Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, turns damp and wet every winter as the weak local electricity grid struggles to keep the lights on.

For basic tasks like printing and charging mobile phones, school staff and students are forced to walk several kilometers to a Jalalabad grocery store, which charges them exorbitant prices. In Afghanistan, it is widely understood that there are issues with education, such as a lack of quality materials and learning resources. However, the need for basic infrastructure, such as electricity, within classrooms is one of the most important, and often under-considered, needs.

Under USAID’s Strengthening Education in Afghanistan Phase II project, 220 girls schools across Afghanistan—including the Abubakar Sidiq Girls High School—have been equipped with solar panel technology to provide electricity and enable better teaching and learning. Selected schools were located in rural areas with low passing rates for the nationwide university entrance exam, Kankor. The intention was to advance learning by fueling technological study tools such as computers and tablets with energy collected from the solar panels.

Although the school was initially skeptical of the idea of using solar power to light the school, now the benefit is clear.

“The thing about solar energy is that it is free and never runs out,” says Hafizulhaq Qarizada, the school’s principal. “It’s good for the health of the school’s environment, and it has created educational opportunities for our teachers and students. They are doing research activities through technology tools which were provided by USAID to improve their skills in different areas of expertise.”

The students are equally excited as well. “I am so excited to see the solar panel derive clean and pure energy from the sun and power our school, enabling us to use technology tools,” says Aziza*, 18, and a 12th grade student. “Solar panels help us to improve our knowledge on math, science and technologies programs. With this improvement, we will be able to get access to the higher education institutes. In the past, these development opportunities were not available in our school.”

USAID’s Strengthening Education in Afghanistan Phase II project, which runs from 2015 to 2020, works with the government and a broad range of public and private partners to improve education in Afghanistan. In addition to the solar technology efforts, the project has provided 60 schools with laboratory equipment and trained over 750 math and science teachers and laboratory technicians.

*Many Afghans use only one name.

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Last updated: May 08, 2017

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