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Effects of lack of energy on education

by Sensix Team

School has already started so let’s learn new energy things. 13% of the world (around 940 million people) do not have access to electricity. Even if there is no universally-adopted definition of what “access to electricity” means, most definitions are aligned to the delivery of electricity, safe cooking facilities and a required minimum level of consumption. This number also includes households with children going to school or even schools. Lack of energy will unfortunately have a major negative impact on education, lowering its quality.

Energy poverty effects

One of the biggest and baddest effects of lack of energy is that energy poverty greatly reduces teaching resources and classroom materials. Without electricity, students have limited resources in order to complete their assignments. This also translates in lack of current information. Teachers aren’t able to make copies of school assignments or connect to the internet to research what activities or materials are available online. They also can’t access online resources, such as videos and other multimedia sources. As a result, teachers are unable to provide their students with the quality of education they deserve.

Energy poverty also translates into complicated work for staff and school administration. School administrators are required to keep the documentation of students and their grades and also attendance rates manually on paper, instead of keeping a reliable, online record. This is not only very hard and inefficient but it also creates waste.

A big issue regarding lack of energy is that students have a small amount of time to study and complete their homeworks. Many children walk long distances to get to school from home, often leaving or returning in the dark. If, as is often the case, their house doesn’t have a source of energy, these students aren’t able to study at home in the evening. They are often forced to seek other sources outside their houses, sometimes at gas stations or under street lamps, in order to have enough light to complete their schoolwork. Families that do have energy at home often rely on kerosene lamps to provide light, a practice that is expensive, poses serious health risks and oftentimes cannot be found locally.

When we’re talking about lack of energy we are usually speaking of some areas that are considered poor. But children are living in those areas too and they need proper education. Energy poverty discourages teachers from working in areas without access to electricity. The lack of electric lighting, televisions, computers and other services deters well-trained and well-educated teachers from living and working in communities that may need them the most.

Children from the areas lacking energy are oftentimes forced to take care of the households and their family instead of attending class, preparing for an exam or completing homework assignments. Energy poverty reduces the amount of time that children spend in school. Alternative fuel sources or devices or even solar-powered water pumps would provide families with the needed help to create more time for study for the children.

Electricity at schools facilitates the use of a bundle of information and communications technologies (ICT) including not only telephones (mobile or not) and televisions but also computers and the internet, audio tapes, projectors, slide projectors, printers and copy machines, digital cameras, and radios. As UNESCO has reported, the provision of ICT can produce a profound impact on schools. ICT can improve student achievement, improve access to schooling, increase efficiencies and reduce costs, enhance students’ ability to learn and promote their lifelong learning, and prepare them for a globally competitive workforce.

Electricity not only attracts students and enhances their learning experience. It can also enhance staff retention and lead to better teacher training. Electrified schools also provide teachers with better training, new skills and techniques for improved practices in the classroom.

Energy poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic

One extremely important problem that recently occurred and showed us how fragile the education system is, is the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period many children were deprived of education because they lacked energy. UNESCO estimates that about 24 million learners, from pre-primary to university level, are at risk of not returning to school following the education disruption due to COVID-19.

Around the world, there are millions of people (more precisely 940 million) lacking energy. Let’s do an exercise to understand how complicated it is and try to live like them for a day. How would we wake up? How would we cook? How would we shower? How would we study? Lacking energy is a serious problem and it takes lots of time and resources to solve it. Let’s start step by step and inform ourselves about this matter first.

Energy has real implications for educational attainment across the continent, as the indoor air quality has on children’s health and academic performance. Learn more in our blog post: https://sensix.io/blog/IAQ-in-schools-three-key-takeaways/. And learn more about our solution to increase energy efficiency.

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