This week, Samsung Africa launched its Solar Powered internet School model at the Samsung Engineering Academy in Boksburg, in a bid to increase accessibility to education and connectivity across the continent.
The company explained that the solar-powered, mobile and completely independent classroom is particularly aimed at remote rural areas with limited or no access to electricity.
The Solar Powered internet School model is further intended to address one of Africa’s largest economic challenges, namely electrification. The company pointed out that on average, less than 25% of rural areas on the continent benefit from electricity, which results in isolated communities with limited access to education and connectivity.
“Our goal was to create an environment that would facilitate learning for whole communities in remote areas that otherwise don’t have access to education tools or internet connectivity,” explained KK Park, president and chief executive officer of Samsung Electronics Africa.
Each Solar Powered internet School is built in a twelve meter long shipping container, which can be transported via truck to remote areas. The schools are additionally built for energy scarce environments, harsh weather conditions, and for transportation over long distances.
Fold-away solar panels provide enough energy to power the classroom’s equipment for up to nine hours a day, and for one and a half days without any sunlight. The solar-panels are made from rubber instead of glass to ensure they are hardy and durable enough to survive long journeys across the continent.
The classroom can comfortably accommodate 21 learners, and includes several layers of insulation and a ventilation system, to ensure a temperate environment is maintained. Each classroom is fitted with a 50” electronic e-board and different Samsung notebooks and netbooks, including the world-first solar powered netbooks.
The school is also equipped with an energy efficient refrigerator, a file server, router, Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS), video camera and wi-fi camera with 3G connectivity. This allows a central location (such as the Department of Education) to monitor classes and deliver curriculum-based content directly to both the learners’ and educators’ notebooks.
To this end, the file server contains the complete South African school curriculum spanning from grade 0 to grade 12, allowing the school to teach any school going subject or grade.
In the event of a complete power outage, teachers can continue their lessons using a regular built-in whiteboard and chalkboard.
However, while the main purpose of the school may be teaching, it is not strictly limited to that function. “The amount of power generated by the schools each day means they can be used beyond the traditional school day as an adult education centre in the afternoons or a community center over weekends,” explained Park.
The Solar Powered internet School prototype is currently being piloted at the Samsung Electronics Engineering Academy in Boksburg. It will then be sent to Qunu in the Eastern Cape to undergo further testing as a functioning learning and teaching environment, with the company aiming to scale up production of the Schools thereafter.
In recent news, Samsung crossed the 20 million smartphone shipment mark to outsell Apple.