THE PROBLEM: In Burundi, the average primary school classroom has 72 children. To cope with the large numbers, most schools run classes in half-day shifts, so each student spends only 3 hours in a classroom each day. The students’ learning opportunities are compromised by the short amount of time they spend in a classroom. 

But students can’t learn at home because power shortages are an ongoing issue in Burundi and there are simply not enough textbooks available for each student to have their own.

 

THE INSIGHT: A solar-powered learning device would circumvent the power shortage problem in Burundi because it could use the sun’s energy to power the device. The device could be an offline computer that stores textbook information in a digital way.

 

THE CHALLENGE: How might we find a way for students to learn at home — without requiring electricity or textbooks?

 

THE SOLUTION: Contributors from UNICEF have developed ‘digital drums’ — small, solar-powered computers that act like virtual classrooms. They contain lesson plans according to the Burundian curriculum in a child-friendly format, including: videos, text and audio recordings of lesson in math, science, French, English, health and illness prevention. Their solar-powered function allows them to be charged in the sun and used throughout the evening, increasing the ability of students to learn outside of the classroom.

 

THE IMPACT: Digital drums are being dispersed throughout public schools and learning centers across Burundi. “I like these computers because they teach me a lot”, says a young boy outside his Burundian classroom. Another young girl said she was excited that she could now learn English fluently. Digital drums are giving many Burundian children the capabilities to learn — both inside and outside of the classroom — in an eco-friendly, energy efficient way.

 

THE INNOVATOR: Eva Guerda Rodriguez is a consultant with UNICEF Burundi in charge of developing content for the digital drums. See the video.

 

Learn more here.

 

”Our future growth relies on competitiveness and innovation, skills and productivity… and these rely on the education of our people.” -Julia Gillard

 

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