In the Netherlands over 6000 Private Initiatives (PIs) are active. These are small-scale development organizations, run voluntarily by passionate citizens. They offer direct support to villages, schools, churches, hospitals, farms, companies etcetera. Focal themes are mainly education, healthcare, human rights and clean water. Often the PIs have a close relationship with the community they support. Most of them work with relatively small budgets, raised from network of friends, aquantainces and own community.
Free use of SolarSchools
SolarSchools could fit well within the direct and practical cooperation which is in the nature of a PI. As PI you are free to make use of the SolarSchools approach and materials. It offers a credible base for your fund raising activities. A good connection to a school in your own environment is a must. Such a connection also provides opportunities to plan your own exit.
We don't need to tell you as PI how to set up a project. That is your specialism. A number of points to consider, we like to share with you.
- Most important success factor is to work with motivated teachers, here and there. Never start a project without this pre-condition!
- Often a supply of used computers is the reason to put on a project with computer education in a developing country. Only consider this option if the energy consumption of these machines is low.
- Somebody of your partner organization should have a more than average knowledge of the computer, especially when the location is far away from the city (where computer companies are established). Experience teaches us that such persons are very scarce in rural areas.
- If your partner school has already an electricity connection (but perhaps an unreliable ons), solar energy might not be the most logical solution. Solar panels use batteries. You may consider to charge batteries from the unreliable network. One can speak of a UPS ("uninterruptable power supply")
- SolarSchools needs the Internet. This can be very expensive. You might inform on the technical opportunities (satellite, radio, G3) and the financial consequences.
- As an amateur professional you should start the project with planning your own exit. Eventually you want to reduce your support and even stop, both practically and financially. The SolarSchools concept offers opportunities to set up earnings models, for instance by exploiting the computer room as Internet cafe.