Solar Digital Libraries are Making a Difference in Education for Mali and Haiti

Solar Library training for teachers in Leogane, Haiti

Inveneo deploys Solar Digital Libraries

Providing quality educational materials in regions that lack resources such as power and Internet access is a real challenge. Inveneo, working with our donors and partners, has created a solution that helps parents in these under-served areas educate their children by providing quality materials in local languages.

In 2015, Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, donated $10,000 to Inveneo to develop a “solar suitcase” for education. This suitcase is a rugged Pelican case containing a solar panel, a battery, a mini server with wifi, and up to five modern tablets that can be preloaded with quality educational material. The solar panel recharges the main battery during the day while the tablets are in use and then that battery recharges the tablets at night.

In 2016, two of these prototype suitcases were sent to Mali Kalanso, a local NGO providing educational opportunities for children in rural West Africa. The five Android® tablets were loaded with a French language version of Wikipedia, as well as other educational materials for teachers in rural Mali to use in lesson planning. After the teachers were trained, students were able to benefit from readings, videos, and photographs of the places and subjects they were studying. These two solar library suitcases are still actively in use in 2021.

In 2020, Inveneo was contacted by a new international NGO, 48percent, whose mission is to support equitable access to communication and education. The founder of 48percent, Mark Vletter, was a volunteer in Haiti as a young man and wished to share the success of the companies he founded with the Haitian people, who are among the poorest in the world. 48percent provided funds to complete the build, and to ship and place four additional solar library suitcases in Haiti.

For this project, Inveneo cooperated with TECHAiDE, our ICIP in Ghana, to use their ASANKA device which connects offline learners to local content without the use of the internet. The ASANKA’s linux-hosted software was developed by TECHAiDE’s Ghana staff engineers. For this Haiti deployment, they included all open source French and Créole language educational content they could find.

The solar library suitcases were placed in schools, whose teachers were trained by two of our  Haitian partners (BATI). All tablets are currently in use by Haitian students. As a relatively small portion of Haitian students are fluent in French, our teams are now cooperating with local Haitian educators to develop more content in Haitian Créole, the native language of Haiti.

Inveneo wishes to thank Craig Newmark, whose vision allowed the development of this important and useful educational tool, and 48percent for funding its application in Haiti.

Teachers during Solar Library training in La Valee, Haiti
A Solar Digital Library in La Valee, Haiti – Samsung tablets charging

  1. Posted by Bob on August 30, 2021 in the categories: Uncategorized
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