A new survey released by the Singizi Consulting Africa (Singizi) reveals that the benefits of Little Sun solar technology extend beyond the classroom, improving health conditions as well as costs associated with lighting. The survey is based on nearly 60,000 Little Sun solar lamps that were distributed to students in rural Africa as part of our Power to Read program.
Focused in the Somali region of Ethiopia, the report surveyed teachers and parents of students who received one or more Little Sun solar lamps that were distributed to the region.
The lamp distribution supported the Ministry of Education in an effort to ensure access to energy for school-age children in the Somali region, which includes the Degahbur woreda. An estimated 16% of the population has access to energy in this region.
The survey findings were published in an April 2023 report that assessed the impact of the lamp distribution, where a whopping 96% of teachers surveyed noted that students’ academic performance improved and most parent respondents said their lighting costs had decreased. Other notable findings are included below:
- Investing in Little Sun solar technology increases academic performance
- On average, Little Sun technology more than doubles the amount of time students spend studying
- Nearly 100% of households saw a decrease in lighting costs once they started using Little Sun technology
- For some, Little Sun solar lamps reduce occurrence of eye irritation, headaches, and other health ailments
Read on to discover the positive impact of Little Sun solar lamps across education, health, community, and more.
Investing in Little Sun solar technology increases academic performance
The survey conducted qualitative interviews with teachers who were asked what changes they had observed in students’ academic performance since they had received Little Sun lamps. The majority of teachers mentioned that students are completing their homework more often, while several also reported that those who received lamps are performing better academically, too. “Those who received the lamp are [doing] better than those who did not receive the solar lamp,” one teacher stated.
Parents also noted improvement in motivation, comprehension, and performance. One parent observed a palpable increase in their child’s interest in their education, and higher motivation for subjects that were previously challenging to the child—like mathematics.
“Now my children do their homework with my support, and they have better scores in mathematics compared to the past,” said a parent of one student.
On average, Little Sun technology more than doubles the amount of time students spend studying
Parent respondents noted that children spend much more time completing studies since receiving a Little Sun solar lamp. In fact, all parents surveyed agreed that their children were spending more time on homework since receiving the lamps and the majority remarked that children spent more than two hours on homework versus less than an hour before the distribution. Study groups with other students also became more popular, something that was less common prior to the distribution.
“The first thing I observed is that the solar lamp helped the students to study together through sharing the light and it also helped them to support each other when they study together,” said one parent.
This also extended into leisure time. Parent respondents noted that children spent more time reading for entertainment or gathering socially with others.
Nearly 100% of households saw a decrease in lighting costs once they started using Little Sun technology
Prior to Little Sun technology, families in the Degahbur woreda of Ethiopia relied on battery cells and torches for light. In fact, 89% of all respondents said they never had access to grid electricity.
But since receiving Little Sun lamps, 96% of parents surveyed stated their overall lighting expenses had decreased as their reliance on these costly—and many times hazardous—light sources diminished.
This is money families can reinvest into important household items, namely food but also clothing, farming, and healthcare items.
A significant number of survey respondents also said the lamps made them feel safer at night. The lamps are regularly used to provide light for activities after nightfall including checking livestock, cooking, running businesses, and more.
For some, Little Sun solar lamps reduce occurrence of eye irritation, headaches, and other health ailments
The distribution of Little Sun solar lamps also had an effect on health. When survey participants were asked to consider the lamps’ impact on various physical ailments, the results were largely positive. The most considerable impact was reduced eye irritation.
“In the past, when we used wood fire in the room for light purposes, not only the children but also I used to [get] pain in my eyes, but now we are free from that thanks to the little solar lamp,” said a survey respondent.
Parents also noted that children appeared to be sleeping better and several survey participants also said that they were experiencing fewer headaches since receiving the Little Sun solar lamps.
Little Sun and Ethiopia
Since 2015, Little Sun has participated in the Lighting Africa campaign for solar lighting and energy in Ethiopia—a World Bank project that aims to make solar energy tools readily available in the country. Little Sun is also a major supplier of humanitarian lights to the NGO sector, partnering with UNHCR, IOM, Oxfam, Plan International and CARE to bring solar light to the most vulnerable communities in the country, refugees, school children and Internally Displaced People and to train young entrepreneurs.
This survey was developed by Singizi Consulting Africa and conducted by Solar Development in the Somali region of Ethiopia in April 2023. 133 parents and 34 teachers were interviewed as part of this survey in order to assess the impact of a Little Sun solar lamp distribution in the region in 2022. The lamps were distributed to students from grade 2-6.