Samsung Solar Powered Internet School (SPIS)

Through the Hope for Children initiative, Samsung launched the Solar Powered Internet School (SPIS) to complement the efforts of the Kenyan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) in integrating ICT in primary schools.

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Through the Hope for Children initiative, Samsung Electronics has launched the Solar Powered Internet Schools (SPIS) in six countries across Africa in the project’s pilot phase. These are South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Rwanda. Samsung hopes to reach 2.5 million learners across the continent in five years. In Kenya, Samsung Electronics launched the SPIS at Arap Moi Primary School in Kajiado County in May 2014. This is aimed at complementing the efforts of the Kenyan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) in integrating ICT in primary schools. Currently, the SPIS is benefiting the primary school and the adjacent secondary school. It is envisaged that in the future the facility will benefit nine other schools in the region. These are: Kiserian, Nakel, Naro Moru, Nkoroi, Ole Kasasi, Oloosurutia, Olteyian, and Rongai Primary Schools.

The SPIS is a 40-foot shipping container that has been customized into a classroom setting. It is equipped with 24 student laptops, 24 sitting spaces, 1 teacher laptop that is designed to monitor all the other laptops, a multi-purpose Samsung printer, a server, air conditioning, Internet access, a 50-inch e-board, and solar panels. All the equipment is customized for use in a solar-powered environment. This is important as many schools in low-income areas lack access to reliable energy sources. Use of solar power ensures that the facility runs efficiently and consistently at no extra cost to the host school.

The e-board is used to provide an interactive learning and teaching experience for the teachers and the students. It can access the Internet and is connected to the computers in the facility. Samsung has collaborated with Safaricom — a mobile network provider in Kenya — to provide Internet to the facility free of charge for the next five years. Samsung has also partnered with Intel and Korea Education and Research Information Service (KERIS) to pre-install content on the computers. KERIS also trained two teachers from the host school in Korea for two weeks in order for them to manage the running and utilization of the facility. The two trained teachers have also been able to train other teachers in the school on how to operate the equipment and conduct lessons using the facility. Additionally, they trained two students from each class on how to use the laptops and the equipment in the facility. These students have been used as peer educators in cascading knowledge to the others. Furthermore, Samsung has collaborated with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to provide content aligned to the curriculum for the facility.

Currently, the facility is being used to supplement regular classroom lessons in science and mathematics. This is mainly for students in class 4 up to 8. Students use the lab under the supervision of the teacher only. Students can use the devices independently, but with teacher supervision, to conduct online research or play installed games.

The program gives students in the most remote parts of Africa access to ICT using solar power. The number of students is more than the capacity of the facility; there are frequent interruptions in Internet supply; and teachers have to set aside extra time for use of the facility and also to train for use of the facility, as most are not IT-savvy.

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