Powering education in rural Kenya through the last mile.

We all have 24 hours in a day. How one makes use of this time to propel themselves towards excelling is reliant on the opportunities offered or created and the circumstances we find ourselves in. One school-going child out of every three in Kenya goes to a school that lacks electricity. Looking at the national Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (K.C.P.E) examinations performance through the years, schools with electricity outperform the schools with no electricity by far.

A woman walks her child to school past high voltage pylon in Rural Kenya.

A woman walks her child to school past high voltage pylon in Rural Kenya. Picture courtesy of qz.com

The Last Mile Connectivity Project is a programme by the Government of Kenya, funded by the Government itself with the help of European Union together with African Development Bank (AfDB); delivered by Kenya Power (KPLC) for the country to reach universal rates of electrification. This #EUinmyRegion project will connect all the 47 counties in Kenya as part of the governments’ support of its initiative to ensure increased electricity access to Kenyans. The emphasis being the Rural Electrification that will have schools and other learning institutions among the top beneficiaries of the project.

School-going children in the rural area have 12 hours between sunrise and sunset to do both schoolwork and house chores as they mainly depend on natural light and limited lighting alternative means. Some alternative lighting resources such as candles and kerosene lamps are a risk to both their lives and their health. A risk to their lives because candles and kerosene lamps are major causes of house fires in Kenya and a risk to their health because of gas emission and the dim light used over time to study may ruin their eyesight.

The average school-going child in rural Kenya is denied the chance to fully utilize their school hours due to lack of electricity. The performance margin between schools that have electricity and those that do not, is proof that if the opportunity of studying more hours is offered, to the students to even study among themselves, will be a step ahead at improving their circumstances.

Electricity plays multiple roles in enabling pupils stay in school and pursue education to a higher level than they already do. Matter of fact (quality) education is one of the main methods of fighting extreme poverty and is at the core of the development of a country.

Access to electricity means access to internet and information on the same level that children from urban areas are able to access. Learning aid such as videos can only be available with the help of education. The government of Kenya made an offer to provide laptops to primary school children. Part of the main reasons why this has not been delivered yet is that most schools in the peri-urban and rural areas do not have electricity to power these devices.

With the availability of electricity, exposing children to technology at a tender age will help more of them have the option of becoming innovators and problem solvers through discovering the possibilities of what technology can do. Teachers and administrators will also be in a better place to research and deliver quality material.

As a ripple effect of electricity connectivity in schools, solutions are offered at other social amenities that are shared by the community such as health facilities, social halls, businesses, even reduced crime rates and beautification through street lighting.

There are so many possibilities that arise with electrification that overall improve lives and make work easier. For instance, pumping of water to taps in household is made possible through electricity making work easier. Rural homes do not have these structures in place meaning that children as young as 4 years have to go fetch water at rivers and other water catchment areas that might be far away which also takes time off their free time to rest or do their homework.

Thanks to the European Union funding of Last Mile project, Kenya will be among the first African nations to achieve universal access to electricity and play the integral part of poverty alleviation which aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals of quality education, no poverty and sustainable cities and communities.

 

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