If you were especially studious in high school, you probably spent plenty of nights up late, nose in a book, pounding through heaps of homework. But imagine if you’d only had daylight hours to complete all that work, trying to cram in all that information before the last glint of sunlight fell beyond the horizon.
As noted in this recent study by the London School of Economics and Political Science’s Centre for Economic Performance, more than 1.3 billion people globally do not have access to electricity. Night time study for students without electricity can be a constant race against the sun.
Researchers found that when one group of 7th grade Kenyan students without electricity were given solar-powered lamps to take home, their grades went up. Math grades shot up .88 standard deviations, which is a big improvement in the education world! What’s even more astounding is that when access to lamps was given to 10% of students, grades for the other students went up .22 standard deviations! It seems students with the lamps were prone to share light with classmates.
Our students in Wamunyu are starting to experience the freedom to study granted by having a solar lamp at home. Thanks to a new program through Kenya Connect, students’ families are going to be able to rent-to-own these lamps for about $1 per month until they pay off the $8.00 cost for small lamps (or $36.00 for medium lamps that also include capacity for charging a mobile phone).
Our partners at Kenya Connect are working right now on getting these lamps into the hands of TSF scholarship recipients.
Consider just how much you learned during all your nights “burning the midnight oil.” Then consider that these students will no longer be faced with a choice to put down their studies or literally burn costly lighting fuels like kerosene that their families can hardly afford. (It’s worth noting that in the Centre for Economic Performance study, families of students with solar lamps also saw a reduction in fuel expenditures of between 66 cents and $1 per week!)
This program has so much promise, and a potential to make years of impact. Kenya Connect’s solar lamps have a two-year warranty and batteries that should last five years. We’re excited to see in coming years how much difference having access to study light will make for our students.