Barely six months into the launch of technology giant Samsung’s corporate social responsibility initiative, the solar- powered Internet school, it won the African Solar Project of the Year award at the Africa Energy Awards on March 28.
“Our aim was to create an environment that would facilitate learning for all communities in remote areas that otherwise do not have access to education tools or Internet connectivity. We are pleased that the project’s success has been recognised,” said Samsung CEO KK Park.
Speaking during the solar school tour visit to Phomolong High School, in Tembisa, on the East Rand, on April 11, Samsung Africa director of information technology Thierry Boulanger said the first container was a prototype launched in November last year and, since it had yielded positive results at all the schools that it had been taken to, there were plans for selected disadvantaged schools to permanently have one container each.
He added that Samsung was currently negotiat- ing deals with several government departments and potential sponsors to reach a workable solu- tion to provide containers for schools.
“A container could run for three days without sunlight because of the unique technology of solar panels installed.
The solar panels on the roof of the container are made of different materials – including rubber – to the standard solar panel technology, which makes it easier to track in the vent of loss. The rubber makes it difficult to break the container. The 12-m-long container has an alarm system to detect unusual use of the equipment, such as watching television or charging cellphones, said Boulanger.
Engineering News previously reported that the classroom could comfortably accommodate 21 learners, and included several layers of insulation and a ventilation system to ensure that a temperate environment was maintained. Each classroom is fitted with a 127 cm electronic eboard and different Samsung notebooks and netbooks, including the world-first solar- powered netbooks and Galaxy tablets for student and teacher interface, all of which have been engineered for use in a solar-powered environment.
Samsung Africa corporate citizenship manager Kea Modimoeng emphasised that the initiative was the result of extensive research and development undertaken by the company and led Park to travel to 43 African countries over a period of ten months.
Modimoeng said that, in most schools that the container had been to, they had trained three information and communication technology teachers in Internet-based teaching skills. “Currently, we are finalising a deal with training academy Teach South Africa to offer training to teachers at the schools.”
He concluded that a significant aim of the initiative was to bridge the divide of privilege between rural and urban schools.