Unlike urban students, rural students in Ethiopia are facing different constraints. During the day time, they travel across long distances on foot daily to reach schools as most high schools are located in and around urban areas and spend half of the day in schools for learning (due to educational shifting system). During the rest of the day, as a farmer; males support their parents in herding cattle, crop harvesting and also act as ploughman while the females support their mothers in fuelwood collection, preparation of meals and fetching water. Both male and female students are busy during the day and have no spare time for doing homework and reading.
Therefore, rural students may have extra time only in the evening to do their homeworks, assignments and for exam preparation. Students who spend the night outside home (in open place) keeping cattle in a shed; burn maize stalk and firewood as source of light for reading and doing assignments (unthinkable! in the 21st century). On the other hand, students who spend the night inside home; primarily use wick based kerosene lamps (blended with used vehicle oil) as source of light.
Kerosene, characterized by high running cost is expensive and poor rural parents are unable to purchase for daily consumption. In addition, oil blended kerosene also causes health risks.Burning kerosene lamps releases soot/black carbon in the atmosphere and this is then inhaled by the students and results in respiratory infections and also eye strains. Lighting Kuraz also causes kids and house burning when left lit (in cases when the students suddenly fall asleep after tiresome study).
Quality and cost effective Pico PV systems, are ideal solar powered systems for rural students as they are portable to use both in and outside home in the evening and help to achieve the following targets:
- contributes to achieving one of the Millennium Development Goals: Education for all
- rural parents will be encouraged to send their children to school
- number of detainees and dropout students will be reduced
- gender equity and women empowerment will be exercised
- Ethiopia, as a developing nation, will have healthy and problem solving intellectuals to actively involve in the green growth economy
Energy Development Actors (GOs, NGOs), Policy Makers, Private sectors, Clubs, and Charity Organizations: it is time to feel the pain of rural students (young nation serving the next generation), and design viable strategy to access clean off-grid lighting systems.