Category Archives: Project news

Aruligo : early impacts and training in monitoring

The team visited Aruligo today, Wednesday 30th October, to conduct the training in the monitoring and backup system.

Explaining the daily solar monitoring

Explaining the daily solar monitoring

A session was held to explore how the school has been benefiting from the solar power already. Teachers reported that evening study has become a part of the daily programme.

For instance, the grade 6 (exam year) students have been studying in the evenings on a daily basis. This is unusual for a non-boarding primary school, and the teachers confirmed that most or all of the grade 6 students had been attending the evening studies. Lower grades, mainly 4 and 5, were also attending evening study but mostly those who live nearby. The extended use of the classrooms with availability of power is also attracting high school students and tertiary students, including those studying with USP, SINU and UPNG.

Teachers have also started innovating with ICTs in the classroom, for example presenting to students multimedia resources for social science and science. The school has prioritized the procurement of a projector. The team was able to provide a collection of open educational multimedia resources from UNESCO, regional organisations and other sources.

The solar power is also supporting teacher professional development. Most of the teachers at Aruligo are studying distance learning courses to advance their qualifications. The simple provision of reliable lighting in the evenings has made a big difference. One reason for this is that afternoons are often needed for chores such as collecting water during dry periods when rain tanks are empty.

The community has also used the solar power – church and PTA meetings are now convening in the classrooms in the evening.

 

Explaining the monitoring system

Explaining the monitoring system

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Collecting solar monitoring data in real time by SMS

An app has been developed that allows schools in rural areas to report performance monitoring data from the solar power systems via SMS from Android phones. This is a facility that would benefit schools that have mobile coverage (any network) but there is no data coverage, or when the school has limited ability to access the Internet for other reasons.

data-by-sms-app

Project contractor David Leeming explained, “The second component of the system is a free SMS gateway that relays the structured text message with the data to an online database server. Anyone interested in the data can log on and view it. Once the data is in such a database, it is possible to manipulate it in any way that is required, for instance to display reports for specific parameters at each schools in graphical format. In this case, to demonstrate the concept we are using a free service called Magpi.”

“This is perhaps something for the future as we still need to ensure monitoring and backup support is as practicable and simple as possible. But, for instance, such methods would certainly help if the project is scaled up to a large number of sites”.

Data is received by an online database service where project staff and engineers can access it at any time

Data is received by an online database service where project staff and engineers can access it at any time

Lights on at Aruligo! Solar power installations well underway

The solar power installation work is well underway at Aruligo, as these images show. The main classroom block has been completed, with two fans and five powerful LED lights in each of the six  classrooms and in one of the two staff houses included in the project.

Lights and fans improving the environment for teaching and learning

Lights and fans improving the environment for teaching and learning

 

The main classroom block with 2500W of solar panels

The main classroom block with 2500W of solar panels

A staff house with 750W of solar panels

A staff house with 750W of solar panels

A control board of the solar installation

A control board of the solar installation

David Iro demonstrating the control board in a staff house

David Iro demonstrating the control board in a staff house

Installing the panel array

Installing the panel array

 

UNICEF Pacific representative visits Aruligo

UNICEF’s Pacific representative Karen Allen has paid a visit to Aruligo Primary School to view the progress with the solar power project. She was accompanied by officials from UNICEF’s Solomon Islands Field Office, the New Zealand High Commission and the contractors.

UNICEF Pacific's Karen Allen engaging with students and teachers at Aruligo

UNICEF Pacific’s Karen Allen engaging with students and teachers at Aruligo

Ms. Allen engaged a group of students in an interesting discussion about their studies and interests and explained the aims of UNICEF in reaching out to the children who are most in need, with such projects.

NZAid's Solomon Islands representative addressing the teachers and students

Anna Reid, Second Secretary (Development), NZ High Commission addressing the teachers and students

 

Main technical training held for 21 teachers and community participants

Testing the voltage of a 250V solar panel

Testing the voltage of a 250V solar panel

Twenty teachers and community representatives of five Guadalcanal primary schools have received training in the management and monitoring of solar power systems. Solar power is to be installed at the schools under a project of the Ministry of Education partnering with UNICEF and funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The 3-day workshop was jointly designed and delivered by the project contractors Leeming Consulting and Willies Solar and Electrical Company, and was held at Willies’ SITAFE training facility in Honiara between 2nd and 4th September.

The project aims to improve the learning environment for rural primary schools through the provision of solar power, lighting and fans for classrooms and staff houses and the implementation of a monitoring and backup system supported by the Ministry.

The group photo

The group photo

The trainees are teachers and community “champions” who have been selected by the schools through their parent teacher associations to provide a level of technical support and monitoring on site, and to advise management committees established by the schools for oversight of the facilities.   

The five primary schools are Titinge, Aruligo, Betivatu, Rate and Tenakoga. They were selected by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with UNICEF’s Solomon Islands Field Office . Each school will receive 4kW of solar power suitable for not only lighting but computers and printers and appliances to be used for productive purposes such as sewing machines.

In a second phase early next year, the project will be extended to include five Choiseul schools.

The training was designed to equip the trainees with basic knowledge, skills and attitudes that are needed to ensure the facilities are used optimally and appropriately, to extend educational opportunities that benefit the students, teachers and community.

Over the three days, the trainees learned the basics of electrical and solar power in theory and practice, productive uses of solar power, how to monitor the solar power systems, and how to decide on the appliances and usage patterns that are suitable. They also worked on school/community agreements to be signed with their education authorities. These ensure that the facilities are well supervised and each partner understands their responsibilities. School policies were also drafted for security, access, extra-curricular use, energy conservation and safety. As the plan is to coordinate with other joint programmes of UNICEF and the Ministry, a session was held to identify ways that water and sanitation (WASH) could be integrated in the arrangements for managing the solar power.

The workshop was opened and closed by Henson Makoani, Director of the Infrastructure Unit, MEHRD and certificates were awarded to the trainees. They now return to their schools and communities, and will receive further training during the installation of the facilities in September and October.

More information can be found in a social media website www.solar4schools.org.sb that has been established to chronicle the project. It will also be used to capture stories about the impacts of the solar power and to build a supportive community.

Community successfully engaged at Rate PS

A meeting was held on 14th August between the implementation team and the Rate School community. A very strong turn out of 49 members of the staff, board, PTA and local women and youth leaders, farmers, church and other community members gives a strong indication of the local interest in the project.

David Iro addressing the meeting

David Iro addressing the meeting

The meeting was intended to promote local ownership by inviting the school and community to jointly make inputs into the planning process, and included:

  • Project briefing for the participants
  • Introduction to the proposed management structure and the draft School/Community agreement (MoU).
  • Thinking about strategies and policies for (a) security, (b) access, (c) extra-curricular use of the facilities, (d) energy conservation and (d) safety. These initial ideas will be further developed during the technical training.
  • Appointing a technical teacher and any other persons who they felt needed to receive technical training;
  • Finalising the installation plan and conducting a technical survey and measurements

The meeting was facilitated by the Head Teacher Rickson Saukuva, and contractors David leeming and David Iro accompanied by Bobby Tomani, Infrastructure Officer from the Ministry of Education.

Head Teacher Rickson addressing the meeting

Head Teacher Rickson addressing the meeting

A lively discussion followed the project briefing.

One good suggestion taken up by the team came from a women’s leader, who commented that a female should be identified and nominated as a community technician, to encourage the participation of women. There was also strong interest in potential use of computers. For instance, one of the new teachers at the school has worked as a manager of a distance learning centre at Avuavu, and is an experienced basic computing trainer.

The school agreed to hold follow up meetings to discuss what they have learned and to give their feedback on the draft agreement (MoU), ideas on local policies and nominations for the roles of technical teacher and community technician.

Planning meeting held at Betivatu School

A planning meeting was held at Betivatu on 12th August between the project implementation team and the school and community. The purpose of the meeting was to engage with them through their Parent Teacher Association on important matters concerning the project.

Nine members of the school staff, Board Chairman and PTA members including women’s rep, reps from two villages and school reps attended. The visiting team included the David Leeming for the contractors and Elison Sau, SSEC Education Officer.

The purpose of the meeting was to promote strong local ownership of the project and solar installations by giving the school and community a chance to participate in the planning and come up with their own ideas on the management.

The meeting was opened by Elison and then David facilitated as follows:

  • Project briefing for the participants using a slideshow (which was also a useful demonstration of the potential use of AV materials in class)
  • Introduction to the proposed management structure and the draft School/Community agreement (MoU) for the PTA to review and give feedback and suggestions. Several hard copies given to the PTA to review.
  • Start thinking about strategies and policies for (a) security, (b) access, (c) extra-curricular use of the facilities, (d) energy conservation and (d) safety. These initial ideas will be further developed during the technical training.
  • Appoint a technical teacher and any other persons who they felt needed to receive technical training;
  • Finalise the installation plan and conduct technical survey and measurements

The PTA members will discuss and review the MoU and provide their inputs to the team in a few days.

At the meeting the installation plans were also confirmed. It was decided to install the classroom systems on each of the two blocks below, which have good storage rooms for the batteries and control panels. The two staff houses to have the solar power installed were agreed on, including the primary school Head Teacher’s house.

Primary classroom block and storage room

Primary classroom block and storage room

New JICA-funded secondary school classroom block

New JICA-funded secondary school classroom block

Two teachers were nominated as “technical teachers” to be trained. These were:

  • Exodus Bobotu, who is also a PTA Teacher’s Rep and teaches in the secondary school
  • Malachi Rubo, who is the School Chaplin and also a Teachers Rep on the PTA.

The participants raised the need for a second community technician, who should live nearby. They agreed to nominate someone later.

Participatory planning meeting held at Aruligo

A planning meeting was held at Aruligo on 7th August between the project implementation team and the school and community. The purpose of the meeting was to engage with them through their Parent Teacher Association on important matters concerning the project.

Aruligo Primary School's main classroom block where the solar power systems will be installed

Aruligo Primary School’s main classroom block where the solar power systems will be installed

About 45 members of the staff and PTA members attended. The visiting team included the contractors, David Iro and David Leeming, Adventist Education Officer Jinelle and MEHRD Infrastructure Officer Rockson.

The purpose of the meeting was to promote strong local ownership of the project and solar installations by giving the school and community a chance to participate in the planning and come up with their own ideas on the management.

meeting-1

Members of the PTA discussing the MoU and strategies

The meeting was opened by Jinelle and then the contractors facilitated as follows:

  • Project briefing for the participants using a slideshow (which was also a useful demonstration of the potential use of AV materials in class)
  • Introduction to the proposed management structure and the draft School/Community agreement (MoU) for the PTA to review and give feedback and suggestions. Several hard copies given to the PTA to review.
  • Start thinking about strategies and policies for (a) security, (b) access, (c) extra-curricular use of the facilities, (d) energy conservation and (d) safety. These initial ideas will be further developed during the technical training.    
  • Appoint a technical teacher and any other persons who they felt needed to receive technical training;
  • Finalise the installation plan and conduct technical survey and measurements
Diagram of proposed management arrangements

Diagram of proposed management arrangements

The PTA members were allowed time to discuss the MoU and the strategies amongst themselves and a few days later we received the following feedback:

Technical Teacher

William Simata is nominated to be the technical teacher


School/Community Agreement (MoU)

There are no comments or remarks.

School Policy on Solar Project

(These ideas will be input to the technical training, where they can be further refined and ideas shared between the other schools)

Security

  • The community will be responsible  for the Technical work maintenance of the solar  as well as the security, a personnel will be appointed and will be stationed at the school compound (Long term plan)
  • During the School break on June & Dec there will be security personnel to be     stationed in the school.
  • Do Awareness talks with the catchment community to educate people in regards to benefits
  • Install Alarm devices on the system

Access

  • Children and Teachers are the ones to have priority access to the facilities
  • Former students and Teachers may also have access to the Facility
  • Other community and church group.
  • Nearby schools may have access to use the services on some arrangements

Extra – Curricular

  • Teachers to manage what extra – curricular he /she may decide that best suited the class without causing any harm to the Power System.

Energy Conservation

  • Charging of Mobile phone will be permitted along with the charging fee of $2.00/ mobile phone.
  • Teachers are responsible to control over energy with certain limits.

Safety

  • Teachers to make awareness talks with the students with regards to the usefulness of the solar power and the potential danger it may cause.
  • Contractor to install protection devices for safety
  • Refer to the General Electricity safety rules

 

A nice lunch was provided by the community!

A nice lunch was provided by the community!

 

The school library which will now have lights and be accessible in the evenings. Electronic library resources will be possible.

The school library which will now have lights and be accessible in the evenings. Electronic library resources will be possible.

 

Parents sitting outside during the meeting

Parents sitting outside during the meeting

 

Solar bore pump under construction (a project by Rotary Club)

Solar bore pump under construction (a project by Rotary Club)

Briefing held at Titinge – Community Champion nominated

A short consultation was held today at Titinge Primary School for the benefit of the school and School Board.

Titinge PS

Titinge PS main classroom block

Head Teacher, Peter Tero, Chairman of the Board Lolonga Mare, Area Chief Gabriel, Deputy Head Teacher Hudson Sahi, and Treasurer Fred Rukale welcomed the project team, represented by contractors David Leeming and Exodus Kawamae (Willies engineer), and Benjamin Rockson for the Ministry of Education.

Titinge-meeting

Pictured: Lolonga (Chairman), Rockson (MEHRD), Exodus (Willies), Peter (H/T), Fred (community rep), Hudson (deputy H/T), Gabriel (Area Chief)

The meeting attendees were briefed by contractor David Leeming and then a discussion followed on the project activities and schedule. The school has already given some thought to the project and has nominated their Treasurer Fred Rukale as the “Community Champion”.

A date was set for the participatory planning workshop to be held at the school in a couple of weeks. Regarding the training, Hudson suggested that training received by teachers who then get transferred should be recognised by the system and their new location selected accordingly. The team noted this suggestion and David explained the contractors plan to award certificates for training and coordinate on this aspect with the Ministry.

The Chairman Lolonga Mare noted that the school was looking forwards to the project completion and that they appreciated the information on how they would collaborate.

 

Community Champions orientation training held

Each school has nominated a community representative via their parent teacher associations (PTAs). The role of the Community Solar Champion is to be the focal point in the community for the project and on-going sustainable operation of the power supplies and services. He/she will receive training during the project and through annual refresher training.

Today, July 30th 2013, four Community Champions from four of the five schools came to a one-day training held at Willies Solar Company facility in Honiara. An officer from the Ministry of Education’s Infrastructure Coordination Unit also attended. The objective of the training was orientation; to brief them on the project and their role in it.

group-pic

The schools nominated the following people:

  • Medly Suia  – Aruligo
  • William Panga – Betivatu (he is also vice-chairman of the PTA)
  • Wayne Donga Sauronga – Tenakoqa
  • Paul Heti – Rate (he is an electrician)
  • Fred Ruaka – Titinge (he is also Treasurer of the school board)

The role of the Community Solar Champion is to:

  1. To represent the community in any project meetings and activities
  2. To communicate  with the community and explain project information, and respond to queries
  3. To communicate with the Management Committee and the stakeholders
  4. To monitor that obligations are fulfilled out as agreed in the School Community Agreement
  5. To carry out technical monitoring as required in the School Community Agreement
  6. To attend project training and annual refresher training
  7. To submit reports as required in the School Community Agreement

The role of Community Solar Champion requires the following attributes:

  • Someone who lives in the community
  • Someone who is trusted by the community
  • A strong and proven organiser
  • An interest in solar power and technology
  • Willingness to be trained to carry out technical tasks
  • Committed to the improvement of the community, especially the school
  • A good communicator

sunny-boy

(Above) William Iro of Willies Solar Company shows participants some new solar power technology.

(Below), The solar village at Willies facility in Honiara.

solar-village