The scourge of COVID-19 might have disrupted the lives of individuals, societies and governments across the world, but the partners of the Future Life-Now! programme determined that they would not allow the pandemic to halt communication, training and support in the 10 FutureLife-Now! pilot schools. Instead, an effective e-platform was established at all 10 schools in Malawi.
Bukelwa Mandisa Ntlabati, MIET AFRICA’s Country Manager in Malawi, said keeping contact with school communities is critical. “From the onset of lockdown, schools were closed. We were unable to travel, so we were unable to assure the wellness of learners.”
Creating an e-platform means access to the schools and stakeholders through virtual meetings. It also allows nurses in the adjoining clinics to speak to learners without risking the danger close contact brings.
“I can conduct training with educators and learners without compromising anyone’s health,” said Nlabati, “and it is more efficient because we don’t have to travel for many hours to access a school.”
However, Malawi is an increasingly energy-stressed country, and with frequent load shedding, accessing an e-platform is a challenge.
FutureLife-Now!’s solution to this challenge was to install solar power which would provide the necessary energy to run laptops, data projectors and screen tripods.
The FutureLife-Now! schools will also make substantial savings on billed electricity since the solar panels have been installed for the most efficient energy absorption.
When asked how the educators felt about the installation of the solar power, Nlabati joked, “I can compare the teachers to Neil Armstrong, they were over the moon!”
The solar supplier began work on 17 September 2020. The supplier also provided a training team to train the users at schools to adhere to the correct procedures. This has ensured that the 10 FutureLife-Now! schools have adequate and safe inverter systems with all safety measures explained to the teaching and non-teaching staff, as well as members of the Parent-Teachers’ Association.
The FutureLife-Now! Objective 4 states: “To empower young people to drive action to improve their physical environment and address the challenges of climate change.”
In line with this objective, Nlabati said that the installation of the solar systems will enable them to operate via clean energy while at the same time combatting greenhouse gas emissions.
“It makes the FutureLife-Now! schools in Malawi greener, safer and more eco-friendly. Eco-friendly schools may contribute to an increased morale of both learners and teachers and the general ethos of the schools.”