“But without darkness we would never know the warmth of light. Actually, I see light at the end of the tunnel.” These are the words of Wadzanai High School teacher, Rati Kanye, referring to the installation of solar power at the administration block of her school.
Through the FutureLife-Now! Programme, solar systems were installed in 10 pilot schools in four different provinces in Zimbabwe, which included Wadzanai High. The systems bring power to the schools’ admin blocks and will be instrumental in supporting e-learning, as the world shifts in that direction, especially in the time of coronavirus.
Despite the unprecedented disruption caused by the coronavirus, some educators in Zimbabwe identified positive benefits from the circumstances. The Ministry of Education gave assistance to schools to help combat and protect their learners from the virus. Added to that, FutureLife-Now! gave supplementary assistance to its pilot schools that was most welcome and helped alleviate the situation.
The highlight of the year for many was the installation of a solar system in their FutureLife-Now! schools. Power cuts in Zimbabwe are a regular occurrence due to outdated power stations, which results in no or limited coverage in most rural communities.
School principal of Nyava Secondary, Isaac Hore, said, “Installation of solar power by FutureLife-Now! through Eurem Power was the icing on the cake. It solved our power challenges. Our learners are enthusiastic and it excites them to finally have access to technology and be able to be relevant in the broader world.”
The solar system will be used for learning purposes and also to power the admin block for any other administrative functions. Principal Yvonne Pfumojena from Nashville High School said, “In the past we would have no electricity at times, and most times we had challenges paying the electricity bills, but right now we have free electricity!”
This also ensures that all devices used for lesson delivery will always be charged and ready for use.
Getting to the rural schools was also a challenge as the installations took place during the rainy season. Given the bad dirt roads, the Eurem Power installation teams had a hard time reaching the schools and carrying the enormous solar panels and other sensitive equipment. At one point, one of their vehicles got stuck in the mud and the team was forced to spend the night sleeping in the bush waiting for assistance from Harare, almost 400km away.
When the company saw how grateful the school community was, they realised that the challenge had been worthwhile.
“Who could have thought a school in the rural areas would get such recognition?” said Makulambila Secondary’s principal, Hosea Mpofu, “The solar system for the school admin block is very welcome, coming in this season when we have power outages due to rains. We will start the year on a brighter note!”
Zimbabwe’s FutureLife-Now! country manager, Aussie Ndlovu, said that e-learning is scheduled to begin in April 2021. “Currently we have been running virtual training sessions with the educators to build their capacity.”