Solar Powered Internet Schools making tangible progress in South Africa

Having launched the Samsung Solar Powered Internet Schools (SPIS) in October 2011, the impact and results that such innovation has had on community development has started to surface.

Having launched the Samsung Solar Powered Internet Schools (SPIS) in October 2011, the impact and results that such innovation has had on community development has started to surface (image: Samsung)

Says Ntutule Tshenye, B2G and Corporate Citizenship Lead at Samsung Electronics Africa: “Our innovations always have our customer requirements and need-state at its core – and while certainly we understood the impact that our SPIS would have on the communities in which it was deployed when we initiated the project, truly understanding its real impact takes time. And today, I am proud to say that that impact is evolving and translating into tangible results.”

The SPIS has been stationed at Phomolong Secondary School in Tembisa for approximately 9 months and over this time the matric pass rate increased from 89% the previous year to 97% at the end of 2012 – an increase of 8%. Commenting on these results, the principal, Mr Thoka had only praise for the SPIS: “I attribute this success mainly due to the SPIS as the students not only had a platform for interactive learning, but with online access, they had dramatically improved research functionality as well as the full curriculum to facilitate their learning processes. Previously the only option available to them was the use of the public library and given the fact that the library closed at 16h00 – meant constraints in time and resources for study.”

Education is one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality and lays a foundation for sustained economic growth. In line with this, Samsung’s goal was to create an environment that would facilitate learning for whole communities in remote areas that otherwise don’t have access to education tools or Internet connectivity. Addressing a common resource challenge, faced by several rural African communities, Samsung started piloting Solar Powered Internet Schools as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) outreach in SA, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, Botswana, Angola and Nigeria.

“The response has been incredible,” continues Tshenye. “The SPIS’s unique value proposition is that it runs on its own, at no cost, given that it uses solar power to generate electricity. Furthermore with its portability, green framework, interactive learning and customised curriculum per country, it’s easy to see why there has been such a strong interest from the Ministries of Education across Africa.”

In combining a number of Samsung devices and technology innovations, the company has been able to create a solution that not only demonstrates best in class technology functionality, but that provides an experience that fosters a culture of real learning and development.

“Through the Samsung SPIS we aim to create a classroom experience for everyone no matter the geographical location – ensuring everyone is engaged and no one is left behind. Education is a key foundational pillar for any society and being able to bring best practices and innovative solutions to remote areas is not only part of our larger CSR strategy, but certainly speaks to our values as a brand. The SPIS is a great example of Samsung’s CSR strategy at play and we look forward to seeing the continual impact it will have across Africa,” concludes Tshenye.

Staff writer