Every County in Kenya is About to Receive One of These Amazing “Solar Classrooms in a Box”

A fleet of all-in-one modular schools brings high-tech education to off-the-grid communities in rural Africa.

image via @aleutia // twitter

In rural communities, where resources and infrastructure are often at a premium, it is often children who bear the brunt of those scarcities. With that in mind, U.K.-based tech firm Aleutia have developed a flatpack, solar-powered modular classroom that can be built entirely off the electrical grid, and can accommodate up to 40 students at a time. The “Solar Classroom in a Box,” as it’s called, is designed to bring energy-independent educational opportunities to students for whom access to computer-equipped, internet-ready schools might otherwise be limited.

Image via @aleutia // twitter

Disassembled, each Solar Classroom in a Box can fit in the bed of a pickup truck. According to Aleutia’s website, the cinder block, and steel structures take about a day to contstuct—no cranes necessary—and another day to fully wire. But it’s not simply the structure that makes the Solar Classrooms in a Box so impressive. Each comes complete with 11 desktop computers designed specifically to operate in the dusty heat of rural Africa, as well as a server, a projector and monitor, and 3G and Satellite connectivity, all powered by the classroom’s pre-installed rooftop solar panels. The only things missing are the students. Each Solar Classroom in a Box runs $20,000, with half of that accounting for the structural costs, and the other half for the included technology.

image via @aleutia // twitter

Aleutia, which focuses on bringing computers and health care technology to developing communities, announced recently that they would be shipping a Classroom in a Box to each of Kenya’s 47 counties, servicing an estimated 20,000 children, as a result. While it isn’t the company’s first batch of classrooms delivered to African nations, this latest initiative is being called Kenya’s largest solar classroom project to date. As FastCo points out, Aleutia’s classrooms have been optimized for this particular rollout, with company founder Mike Rosenberg explaining:

Usually when we install solar, there are issues with the panels pointing the wrong way or at the wrong angle. Here, because it's all pre-installed and optimized, there's no need for a site survey and other retrofitting costs.

Here’s a look at the classrooms in action, from an earlier rollout in nearby Uganda:

Modular classrooms have become a growing trend in education architecture, and similar “shipping container schools” have already been built in South Africa and Malawi. What sets Aleutia’s classrooms apart, claims the company, is that unlike other solar power flatpack buildings, the Classroom in a Box’s decentralized computer system means that each of its 11 custom PCs will continue to operate independently should the main server fail. What’s more, explains FastCo, each classroom will be able to charge a small number of peripheral devices (think: phone chargers, monitors, etc) which Rosenberg hopes could one day develop into “micro-grids” of inter-connected modular buildings, independent from standard electrical infrastructure.

Meanwhile, construction on Kenya’s new batch of solar classrooms is already underway, with much more to come.

[via inhabitat]

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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