Solar Powered Open Education Library in a Box for Schools in Sierra Leone

Digital Content

We want to put thousands of open education materials available on the internet and those developed by trained local teachers in Sierra Leone base on their curriculum in the hands of students and teachers mainly in communities/districts/towns/villages/chiefdoms were textbooks, electricity, internet, computers, science labs are libraries are not reliable or existing.

Many students and teachers in the developing world like Sierra Leone lack access to basic textbooks, electricity, computers, school library and science labs. Due to this situation, students and teachers with potentials to become the next great innovators cannot fully take advantage of there potentials. The governments of these countries in most cases, lack the knowledge and resources to help the student though corruption and other political issues are sometimes the root cause.

Sierra Leone’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education survey results of 2009 compiled by InfoDev.org indicates that the education sector’s ICT infrastructure is under-served. There are approximately 81 technical/vocational education institutes serving 5,824 students with a teaching population of 219 including university professors but only 2% of these students and teachers are computer literates. In primary and secondary schools, it’s less than 2%.

Student enrolment rate continues to increase in primary schools, junior secondary and, senior secondary schools at an alarming rate but the total number of math, science and technology education students and teachers continues to decrease even further Sierra Leone’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education

Many of the country’s residents are illiterate or have received very little formal education. The statistics are shocking:

Our solution is simple and in three folds; One is to develop a “Solar Powered Open Education Library in a Box”. Two is to provide free, reliable, rugged and robust tablets to students and teachers to access, download and store the content in the library for 24/7 use anywhere. And third is to train select teachers on how to create open education content base on their local curriculum, record lectures and laboratory experiments as they are being performed and upload such content in the library for consumption by students. The server is a small, rugged, fan-less, solar optimized low power server running Linux and using a 500GB solid state Hard Drive and 4GB of RAM. It will host a web Server, Wireless AccessPoint and Internet Cache Server software. Portable solar system will double as power source for the server and charging station for tablets especially for students and teachers without electricity at home. The LED lights included with the solar will serve as lighting for students to study at night in the school library.

The eGranary Digital Library – also known as “The Internet in a Box” – provides millions of digital educational resources to institutions lacking adequate Internet access. Mindset Network a not-for-profit organisation set up in 2002 is providing educational solutions for the formal education and health sectors in South Africa. The major difference here are; power source, power consumption of computers used, scalability and mobility access. We want to put the materials in the hands of students and teachers on tablets that will be with them 24/7 and can be used whenever they want.

Because the server is low powered using between 10Watts and 20Watts and it being powered with solar energy and 12 volt batteries, there is no doubt it will be sustainable compared to AC powered solutions. More than 80% of our target beneficiaries are without grid power. Where its available, its not affordable and reliable. The ruggedness of the server, use of solid state hard drives and fan-less configuration reduce maintenance on the PC.