A project to reduce educational disparities among children in non-electrified areas of Tanzania has been underway since 2017. It is being jointly conducted by a Japanese NPO that strives to improve ICT education in developing countries and a Tanzanian NGO that has been addressing poverty in rural villages for 13 years. Together, they have introduced "off-grid" power systems using solar panels and batteries to 45 elementary and secondary schools, thereby bringing light to the darkness.
The setting for this program is Tanzania in East Africa.
Dar es Salaam, the country's largest city, is rapidly modernizing.
It's predicted it will become a supercity of 73 million people by 2100.
In the country's rural parts, however, there are extensive areas where electricity is not yet available.
Wood is used for cooking, and at night, people use flashlights or lanterns for lighting.
Against this backdrop, a project is underway to improve the educational environment of children living in non-electrified areas.
The project is promoted by Class for Everyone, a Japanese NPO.
It started working to address educational disparities among children in developing countries ten years ago.
Using corporate support and crowd-funding, it has been actively introducing ICT, Information Communication Technology education.
For children, the future's everything.
I want to be of help for the sake of
children full of the future.
That's my priority.
Their counterpart is a Tanzanian NGO called 'New Rural Children Foundation.' Based in rural areas, it has been working for thirteen years to address the poverty of young people living in local villages.
Their encounter with 'Class for Everyone' five years ago led to the current project.
Our goal is ensuring villagers receive
the same benefits as city dwellers.
Children in schools in non-electrified
areas in particular have difficulties because they can't study properly
in the early morning or at night.
The focus of the project is to introduce an independent ‘off-grid' power source to primary and secondary schools in non-electrified areas.
Without requiring huge power plants or large power grids, the small system uses solar panels and batteries to generate "self-sufficient electricity."
We will introduce a project to spread ICT education through off-grid systems.
The project is taking place at a location seven hours' drive from Dar es Salaam.
It's Korogwe, a provincial district in northeastern Tanzania.
In this area of fruit cultivation, the government has been upgrading the electric power supply for the past few years.
Life has changed greatly
since electricity came in.
We've benefited a lot.
Cold water's now available.
It's become possible to sell soda,
and we have a fan to beat the heat.
The government is working
to promote electricity.
However, there are problems as well.
Electricity is a great boon to the residents, but power failures occur on a daily basis, making the situation unstable.
And another significant factor is at play.
While the government has been working
hard to spread electrification, centered around the urban areas,
I don't know if the same is true
for the distant villages.
This is Mahenge, a village 20 kilometers from the urban district.
The inside of the houses are dark even during the daytime.
Bakari Lomelo is a third-grade student at secondary school.
There is no electricity in his house, so he does his homework by lantern light every day.
He wants to help the family financially by getting a job that pays well.
His mother has high expectations of her son.
Getting an education will help
you find a good job.
It will save our lives and make
our children's future brighter.
The current collaborative project of a Japanese NPO and a Tanzanian NGO was launched in response to such local residents' desires.
To create an environment to spread ICT education, installation of off-grid systems has started at primary and secondary schools in non-electrified areas.
At Bakari's secondary school, a system which can operate a projector and a computer for about two hours was introduced in 2017.
It consists of a reused solar panel sent from Japan, a lead-acid battery, the type used in cars and readily available in Tanzania,
and a solar charge controller which prevents overcharging and backflow to the battery.
It's an off-grid system made with minimal, inexpensive equipment.
Students can now study in a bright environment at any time.
I want to study and live a good life.
My uncle is a graduate and doing great.
I want to follow his example.
I'll eventually live as a boarder
at this school, and I want to study harder in the
evening as well as in the morning.
Because of the long commuting distances, many primary and secondary schools in Tanzania have attached dormitories.
Bakari's school is no exception and more than half of its students live there as boarders.
This electricity system also helps
our 150 boarders.
Having to use lamps for them would
consume a lot of kerosene.
But with solar power,
that is not necessary.
It helps us a lot and
we are so grateful.
The off-grid systems so far installed at 45 primary and secondary schools have greatly improved the educational environment in non-electrified areas.
Takahama Koji is the representative of the 'Class for Everyone' NPO that launched the project.
Based in Japan during the Covid pandemic, Takahama has been carrying out educational support activities for children living in various developing countries.
It's a fact that some children are
too poor to be able to go to school.
But that doesn't necessarily mean
they live a life of misery with dull eyes.
Their sparkling smiles seem to last
longer than those of Japanese children.
The same is true for the adults
Seven years ago, after the birth of his own child, Takahama moved his base of operations from the city center to the countryside.
From his experiences on projects in the developing countries he has visited, Takahama values the connections to the local community and is aiming for a self-sufficient lifestyle.
There is our field.
It's still in the process of
Living in the countryside, I now feel
closer to what I was seeing back then.
Different from an urban lifestyle, an environment not filled with things
is precisely the premise for creating
ingenuity in living.
Takahama realized there's good compatibility between the Internet and educational support, and launched the NPO in 2012.
Utilizing his connections at the IT company where he had worked up till then, he collected computers and tablets that were no longer being used in Japan,
and he established a model for enabling them to be reused in developing countries.
We have over 100 tablets here.
The 20 PCs we have will be sent to
Papua New Guinea.
I sometimes do the setup at home
In collaboration with Japanese companies and support organizations in various countries, the ICT education dissemination activities have expanded to 33 countries over the past 10 years.
Japan's volunteer program has helped
us increase the number of countries.
The volunteers in each country teach
the children how to use a PC.
We responded to the need in countries
where no PCs were available.
While steadily expanding the scope of the NPO'S activities, Takahama saw a weakness in promoting ICT education firsthand in a natural disaster.
In 2013, I saw the devastation caused
by Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines.
The area where we were working
had a power cut for three weeks, so the computers could not be
That taught me I couldn't continue
the project without electricity, and I got interested in how to
generate electricity myself.
Takahama was eager to produce electricity somehow or other.
One year later, he encountered a civic movement which promotes off-grid systems as part of disaster prevention measures.
The building you can see over there
is a shared office that we use.
This office has also installed
an off-grid system.
We have five larger solar panels
lined up outside.
They produce about 1kWh of electricity.
And this battery stores the electricity
produced by the solar panels.
The knowledge and technology that Takahama gains here is applied to the off-grid system utilized in Tanzania.
In order to pass on the potential of the off-grid system, Takahama now organizes an "Electricity Generation Workshop" once a month.
This activity's based on lessons from
the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
For the first time we experienced
what it meant to have no electricity.
We started to address that issue.
The "Electricity Generation Workshop" for producing your own small off-grid system is a popular event that attracts participants from all over Japan.
And to eliminate educational disparities for children living in non-electrified areas, Takahama started the current project using this kind of know-how.
Few people are aware of electricity,
but off-grid makes it on the spot, so they realize the size of the solar
panels decides the amount of power.
In a non-electrified situation, you may first consider if it's really
necessary to run a power line.
Introducing an off-grid system
instead of putting in a power grid may be the best first action to take.
In the most inaccessible mountainous area of the Korogwe district, Takahama installed an off-grid system at this school in 2017.
Do you know what this is?
A solar panel.
A solar panel.
A solar panel!
Yes, it's a solar panel.
This is the "Making Electricity Class," based on the workshop in Japan.
It teaches children the mechanism of electricity generation through the assembly of a simple off-grid system.
The teacher, Nicolaus Madeni is a member of the counterpart NGO.
Do you have your guidebook?
Open it and look at the first page.
Takahama created the guidebook.
Look at the picture of a battery
and then connect the battery.
See the picture?
What does the connection make?
Please make it exactly like that picture.
The students are participating in this "Making Electricity Class" for the first time.
Do you think it'll light up?
Please turn on the switch.
Letting them assemble the system themselves creates pleasure and confidence in having produced electricity.
You could make your own electricity!
The second half of the class is conducted using the projector powered by the off-grid system.
You know how to build a power supply
system with panels and cables, right?
Now let's use the electricity you
produced to have a weather lesson.
Many Tanzanian schools don't have one textbook for each student.
So, the children's response to lessons using video and sound has been very positive.
I made electricity for the first time
and really enjoyed the class!
That was my first projector class,
and I had a great time!
The good thing about having
electricity at school is that we will have fun projector
classes and tablet training.
Nicolaus, who is at the core of this local project, started working for his uncle, who runs the NGO, at the age of 18.
I do this job because I loved going
to school when I was young.
Even now, I like it very much because I can meet a lot of people at
school and share pleasure with them.
Especially holding the workshops for
students is a lot of fun.
The best part is seeing the smiles of joy
on their faces when the bulbs light up.
Today he's visiting his uncle's house in a village deep in the mountains.
This is also the headquarters of the NGO, the counterpart of Takahama's NPO.
How are you?
This is his uncle, Nicholaus Shemsanga.
For many years he has been advocating for the correction of regional disparities between towns and villages, and has been working to support children suffering from poverty.
There are currently six staff members, including volunteers.
He believes that spreading this activity using sustainable natural energy will benefit the future of the villages.
Many projects focus on urban activities.
Mr. Takahama chose the non-electrified
areas of villages for his activities.
I was really happy to see someone
who is willing to help the villages.
Tanzania has strong sunshine
and long daylight hours, and panels can be installed
in many places.
They are able to supply electricity
solely from sunlight, which has less impact on environmental
destruction than ordinary electricity.
I feel it's a good power source
suitable for the current times.
Nicolaus now lives alone in the town.
Until four years ago, he lived with his uncle.
Rebelling against his father's indifference to his education, he wanted to improve himself.
And he chose this project which his uncle promotes to open up a future for children.
My goal is to ensure an environment
is created where we rural villagers can have equal
It's really difficult for us to get
the goods and information that many people in the city have.
We need to get real information
and to share it.
I believe that will protect us and
lead to solutions for various issues.
Nicolaus himself has learned many things through this project.
One of them is how to use a computer.
Before joining it, he had never had the opportunity to touch a PC.
Takahama taught him how to use it.
Nicolaus first met Takahama six years ago.
Takahama is now like a big brother he can rely on.
What will you do tomorrow and the day
after tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday?
Just stay home washing clothes,
yes, like that!
Using the know-how learned from Takahama, Nicolaus now focuses on teaching students how to use tablets.
Who is new today?
You held it.
And you didn't drop it, so your
handling's perfect already!
Please handle a tablet with care,
to make sure you don't drop it!
The tablets here are the ones Takahama collected in Japan that were no longer in use.
Do you see there's a place to put
your first and last names?
Touch there and put your name.
By introducing information terminals capable of accessing the Internet and educational applications, he's working to broaden the children's interests and knowledge.
I was so happy to find out
how to use the tablet.
I want to use this tablet more
and study more.
I think learning how to use tablets
will bring them many benefits.
It's important to build an environment
where they can learn by themselves.
The Korogwe project began with the installation of an off-grid system.
ICT education in non-electrified areas is now in progress.
In addition, there's a product created as the fruit of the interaction between Takahama and Nicolaus.
It's a mobile off-grid system integrating all the equipment, including the solar panel and battery.
Over the past few years, there have been cases of solar panel and electricity theft.
After being consulted by local officials, Nicolaus developed the product together with Takahama.
This local workshop below our office
makes a variety of woodwork items.
I asked them to develop the wooden
frame for our mobile off-grid system.
We're making them in Tanzania
using timber from forest-thinning.
The development of the frames began in 2020.
With the efforts of people who support the Tanzanian project, they were produced in a period of about six months.
Careful consideration was given to ensuring the frames could use wood that is easily available in Tanzania.
The improved version, which can be stored indoors, has been in operation locally since last year.
Today, Nicolaus is delivering a mobile off-grid system.
The destination is a clinic in a non-electrified area.
If you want to charge your cell phone,
you can do it here.
Turn on the switch, connect the long
cable, and you have electricity.
I'm very happy to receive
this off-grid system today.
We have a hard time with women
giving birth, especially at night.
It'll be so good to have light.
The introduction of off-grid installations has become indispensable, not only for improving the ICT education environment for children,
but also for the life of people living in non-electrified areas.
What the local community wants is
As they use the system, they'll find
how best to use it, and I want to do that together.
I notice "developed countries" and
"developing countries" are often used.
What does "being developed" mean
in developed countries?
Today's developed countries are not
To make the future different,
we may have to break new ground.
This applies not only to the people
of Korogwe but us as well.
We want to do it together.
This is a newly built primary school in a non-electrified area.
And yet another off-grid system has been installed to light up the future of the children.
Let's sing now!
Our school and its environment,
The trees, the flowers,
everything is shining brightly.
Solar power is shining brightly.
shining brightly, shining brightly.
The trees, the flowers,
everything is shining brightly.