The official answer is one to fit the bulb, one to take the photo, one to write the blog, 30 over excited primary school kids for atmosphere plus some very happy looking school staff!

Today we drove the short distance to Malavi School, a rural school located around 30 minutes drive from Blantyre.  The school has had a partnership with Inverkip Primary School in Scotland as well as some solar PV panels installed through a project with the University of Strathclyde (CRED). The PV panels are primarily used for lighting and for charging mobile phones.  The lighting allows students to study in the evening and for teachers to have time to prepare lessons when it is dark.  The electric lighting is cleaner, healthier and better than other lighting types used such as candles and paraffin.

Interviews were undertaken with the head teacher, staff members and a student to determine the benefits of the solar PV system.  It was striking the difference just a few lightbulbs could make to so many people.  Emmanuel, a secondary school student, explained that as a result of the lightbulbs he had been able to study longer which had meant he did exceptionally well in his primary school exams.  This had led to him being awarded a place at a secondary school.  The increase in those passing exams has been encouraging for both pupils and staff alike.

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Oh yeah, and the lightbulbs.  In addition to the interviews, we brought a few LED bulbs from Scotland to try as test at the school.  LED bulbs are few and far in between Malawi, with the usual “energy efficiency” bulbs being CFLs that tend to unreliable and expensive.  The hope is that LED bulbs last longer – and they have a similar light output for only 4 watts compared to 11 watts!