Income and Education

Studying the Solar way

District: Koraput, Orissa Village: Sorispadar Partner Organization: Organization: Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA)

School was always a mental drudgery for the children of Sorispadar village. With dark, gloomy classrooms and having to studying by kerosene lamps - the poorly lit and smoke filled atmosphere drained the whole excitement of coming to school. The Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) at Koraput witnessed this problem and partnered with Lighting a Billion Lives to equip the village and school with solar lanterns.

Benudhar Sahoo, a teacher at the Sorispadar Primary School, shares how the school's environment became so much more encouraging for students since the installation of the solar charging station, allowing villagers access to a clean lighting option. This was evident from the immediate rise in their performance and marks to almost double the average that existed before solar lanterns were available in the village. All 40 children in the school showed a marked progress in their performance as they could now put in an extra 2.5 hours in the evening at home, in comparison to the one painful hour of studying they used to do in poor kerosene lamp light, that not only adversely affected their vision and breathing but also their concentration and learning.

By using solar lanterns, the school was also able to save nearly 350 rupees a month that were otherwise spent on kerosene. This amount was in turn deposited into the primary school’s hostel account and was used to fund the school's stock of medicines and towards the maintenance of the solar charging station.

Nine year old Debendra Jambeka shares, “my eyes would water a lot, get irritated and pain when I studied by a kerosene lamp for more than an hour. But now I feel much better and fresher when I study by the solar lantern and can put in more time for my studies. I am also afraid of the dark, so I sleep in the light of the lamp from 11 pm to 6 am and don’t feel so scared anymore.” Other students agree too that living in the school's residential hostel, which is equipped with six solar lamps, has made studying a lot easier. Their fear of the dark in the evenings too, like Debendra, is diminishing.

The solar lanterns were an important addition to the school and came at a critical period in its development. Breaking a 14 year trend, the school was preparing to scale up its student strength from 40 to 110 by opening admissions for girls too. This increase in student strength and especially the inclusion of girls is being supported by the government in several schools that are located centrally in the Gram Panchayat, the infrastructure of which will take this step to fruition. The school is already planning on installing a second solar charging station to meet its additional lighting needs.

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