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“One word: Wow!,” exclaims a student in a promotional video showing learners’ reactions to Samsung’s Solar Powered Internet School. For a group of students in rural Phomolong South Africa, Samsung’s shipping container computer lab will provide a place to learn and experience desktop computing — for some, for the very first time.
Africa is said to have leapfrogged the desktop computing era straight into mobile, with more than half of the continent’s one billion people estimated to have had their first internet experiences on a mobile device. That’s great, but the tiny displays of mobile phones don’t make for the most optimal of research experiences. Now, thanks to Samsung stepping up, the students of Phomolong Secondary no longer have to travel to a library when their school projects compel them to do so.
The solar panels fixed to the 12 meter long renovated shipping container provides nine hours of electricity a day, powering the gadgets inside the classroom. Inside, there’s a 50-inch electronic board, Samsung laptops and tablets, as well as Wi-Fi cameras.
There’s space for 21 students at a time and the entire curriculum has been digitised and stored on a central server. Samsung says that the school “encourages connectivity and a global perspective” by enabling two-way learning through internet access. The school can be moved by truck, and as it doesn’t need electricity, it can bring an internet-age classroom to even the remotest areas.
The Internet School in Phomolong was launched in October 2011 and Samsung plans to expand the programme into to more African regions. The Internet Schools Programme for K-12 classrooms is being piloted in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan. The goal is to reach millions of students in Africa by 2015.
Earlier this year, the project was recognised as the African Solar Project of the Year by the Africa Energy Awards.
As one student, Lefa puts it, the Samsung Solar Powered Internet School is “purely greatness, happily madness.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.