The study, coordinated by the Global Shapers Rome Hub in partnership with Givewatts NGO, the London School of Economics and other relevant Hubs around the world, focuses on the topic of energy access in developing countries. Its main aim is to study the impact on education of substituting harmful and expensive kerosene lamps with solar lamps.
Due to the high fuel costs of traditional lighting systems, students are forced to limit their hours of study with a direct and measurable impact on their school results. Preliminary projects carried out in East Africa show that by adopting solar lamps, students, often forced to study late in the evening, can achieve significantly higher academic results by using "free" solar light instead of conventional oil lamps which their families can ill afford. The latter can absorb up to 40% of household monthly budgets, forcing families to minimize study hours.
The project’s primary rationale is to address the educational dimension involved in accessing clean energy sources using a structured approach. These aspects will be directly linked to other key factors, such as gender equality in education, the economic impact of the diffusion of renewable energy, direct and indirect health benefits and the penetration of social awareness for clean energy technologies as a central element for future energy strategies in developing countries.
The project entails the distribution of 300 solar lamps to 300 students in 12 schools located in rural off-grid communities in Kenya to replace kerosene lamps. Lamps are delivered in two batches of 150 each (in coincidence with the start of the academic year). Alongside the delivery of the lamps, a number of field surveys are carried out throughout the year by a localised Research Team. This is important both to monitor the real time impacts of the substitutions of kerosene lamps with solar lamps, alongside monitoring the students’ improvement in school performance. As a result, the randomized control trial model entails a control group to clearly assess the impacts of the installations on five variables: previous student performance, village of residence, gender, proxy family wealth and living conditions.
This project has built a compelling story about the strong connection between clean energy diffusions and access to culture, the real foundation for economic and social development. The innovative approach linking education with energy diffusion will allow the tailoring of relevant large scale initiatives with a clearer understanding of the short and long term impacts.