Posted by sustainable on November 2, 2012
Sustainability is a great topic for schools, as its ideal for action based learning. Pupils can make connections between science in the classroom and real life. Or even better… realise that they have the power to influence it. Schools like Great Kingshill Primary did just that when they took on Lighter Learning – a project that goes beyond learning to save energy with the flick of a switch, to include a global perspective, and help schools in Africa flick on those switches for the first time.
I visited Great Kingshill earlier this year to tell them about SolarAid and our work lighting schools and homes in Africa with clean, safe solar power. They were fascinated to learn that it’s not only schools in the UK that can benefit from solar panels. We talked about schools across East Africa, in some of the sunniest parts of the world, who are beginning to harness this abundant energy and light their classrooms at night for the first time. Meaning that children are able to study safely past 6pm when the sun goes down. This global perspective enabled the pupils to increase their understanding of sustainability and to value their own access to energy, particularly the light they need to do their homework.
classroom lit by solar power
We take light for granted. Yet nearly 2 billion people in the world have no access to electricity. And that includes schools. The only option for many teachers is to burn dangerous, dirty, expensive kerosene lamps so that their students can study. These not only produce poor quality light but pose a frightening health risk too. At SolarAid our mission is to banish kerosene lamps from Africa by the end of this decade.
Luckily for us, the Great Kingshill year 6 were also pretty passionate about kicking kerosene out of the classroom. That’s why they decided to take on Lighter Learning and raise £1000 to support a school in Kenya to light up their classrooms. The pupils did assemblies, taught other classes, engaged local clubs and even got the local running group and police on board to help them run a cross country race. They managed to rally their whole community to support the cause and raised an incredible £2000 – enough money to help light two schools in Kenya.
In Lighter Learning the sustainability education reaches far beyond the classroom. These pupils engaged with a school on the other side of the world, whose students they realised shared the same needs as their own: light to study and a safe, healthy, affordable and environmentally friendly way to do so. Not only did they learn that, but they taught their whole community about this sustainable solution.
It just goes to show that we should never underestimate the potential children have to take action for the issues they care about, and to make a difference in both their local and global communities. Please watch this short video if you’d like to hear what the pupils themselves have to say about Lighter Learning and their fundraising journey.
If you know a school, church or workplace that would like to help a school in Africa get solar power then please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.solar-aid.org/lighterlearning to learn more.