World Vision provides solar lamps for school children in Kono
In a bid to promote child education World Vision Sierra Leone has commenced the distribution of solar lamps to primary and secondary school children in Kono District where electricity for the ordinary people has not been available for years. (Photo: Secondary School children in Kono display Solar Lamps provided by World Vision Taiwan to promote child education in Sierra Leone)
But as children World Vision believes they too have the rights to be educated, so also do they have the responsibility to study hard and pass their exams, the solar lamps will help school children to study at night in remote communities where the NGO operate.
In Kono district (one of the districts devastated by the war) like many other rural parts in Sierra Leone, children study using two means “Fefeh” Lamp (a local lantern made from milk tin which uses small kerosene) or candle.
Jeneba, a class 6 pupil of the Gorama Primary School is one such child that has used the former since she started her primary education.
According UNESCO Sierra Leone is ranked among the countries with the illiteracy rate
“Since I started school I have been studying with a ‘Fefeh’ lamp to study, as there was no other means for me to study and studying with it blackens my nostrils’ expressed Jeneba.
Both means of studying, i.e. using a candle or ‘fefeh lamp’ poses threat to children lives. Sometimes using the candle can be fatal sometimes as houses normally get burnt, when a child over sleeps or fail to put out the candle before going to bed after studying. Using the ‘Fefeh’ lamp on the other hand, gets children’s nostrils blacken with fume which always cause severe lung infection for the children.
“Using this lamp has caused me a lot of problems, there was a time when I went to school and we were taking exams, I was having cold, so when I blew out my nose, the mucus that came out was black as charcoal, several days later I started having side pains’ Jeneba laments.
As most parents live in abject poverty in rural areas, getting Le 20,000 (Twenty thousand Leones which is equivalent to $5) to buy a gallon of Kerosene that will light the lantern that kids will use to study every day is a huge problem compounded with the present global fuel crisis, so they refer to cheaper means at the expense of their children’s health. ‘with the current hardship in the country, if I have Le 20,000 I will rather use it to put food on the table for them than buy a gallon of kerosene and this money can be used for 2 days meal’ Kadie, Jeneba’s mother expressed.
Issues like these impede on the children’s grades when they take public exams and making it to the next stage is always a problem, in a bid to address the situation the ADPs in Kono get together and contacted support offices with the idea of using solar lamps instead of candle or ‘Fefeh’ lamp.
“We thought it fit that, building school and getting the children to access it is great, but if there performances at public and class exams, then our goal in getting children have quality education is farfetched. So we thought that making their studies meaningful should be part of our strategy in getting quality education’ Tommy Vandy, Area Development Programme Manager, Gbane.
It was against this back drop that World Vision Taiwan, experimented with the solar lamps, for children in classes 6 who are ready to take their National Primary Exams (NPSE) and those in JSS 3.
‘I am very happy as I can now study under a very good light and my nostrils will no longer get black’ Jeneba happily expressed.
The solar lights when charged can be used for 4 days and then it can be taken to school and then recharged. “We have put a mechanism in place, wherein we can sustain these lights so that it can serve children in the community.
When children graduate to the next class they will leave the light for the other set of kids that will make it to that class, as they too will be facing their public exams” Tommy Vandy again.
‘I’m happy for World Vision they have built schools for our children and now they have given them lights so that they can pass their exams, so we can’t worry about buying kerosene for them to study” Kadie concludes.
World Vision is trying to see the possibility of getting every child one solar light that will enhance the children’s performance thus achieving our child well-being aspiration of children are able to read at age eleven.
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