“Children bring light home”
By Isha Bajpai
Inside a complete dark room measuring not even 20 X 20 feet where Soumya, 15 and her family of four live, where electricity is a guest for a few hours, Soumya does not have to worry about studying. She just plugs in the LED lamp to the battery and sits to study under it.
“These lamps help my mother in cooking, I and my sister in studies. When neighbors come and ask for it I direct them to my school,” said Soumya.
While driving on the National Highway four from Bangalore to Chennai a turn towards the right takes you to a village called Mittur. A year and a half back, here electricity was unaffordable for about 30 families and education was an unachievable aspiration for many kids.
On July 10, 2010, LED lamps with associated solar PV based peripherals which could be charged through the solar panels setup on the roof of the school were given away to below poverty line merit oriented students of class X. They were preferably given to girls as according to Indian culture girls are more suited to do household work than study. This was the reason for most of the girls being irregular in attending school.
They took this step by looking at the increase of students being irregular in coming to school as in India household works are not preferable over education.
This was an initiative taken by Dr. Jagadish Mittur, a biotechnology expert who belongs to this village.
“This encouraged parents to send children to school and, in turn, children bring light home,” Dr. Jagadish Mittur.
He suggested this location to Mr. R. S. Kalawar, a retired engineer with the Indian Railways who recently developed a concept of providing lighting. “LED lamps were given to rural homes to incentivize parents to send their children to school on a day to day basis,” said Mr. Kalawar.
Mr. Radhakrishna Kalawar got this idea when he bought a lamp from the traffic signal that batteries can be detached from the lamp and used for this noble cause. This way there has been a productive use of a renewable source of energy like solar power. Mr. Kalawar approached Youth for Seva, an NGO and asked for their help.
Thus, these batteries got electricity in the houses of the people who could not afford taking electricity connection from the government.
The batteries got discharged by the end of the day and could only be charged by the solar panels in the school. The students, then, used to take those lamps to school. They would enter in the school with submitting the battery and would collect it while leaving. All this while, the batteries would get charged by getting connected to the solar panel.
“The battery life is short and makes the education more accessible for kids,” Mr. Akshay Yadav, environment consultant, Youth for Seva.
The school has five lamps being set up for night classes in three class rooms inside the school which are run through solar power.
“Before this came in, electricity was not available at night. But now we can also conduct night classes for students. Parents and children are requesting to get more sponsors to make it available for them also,” said Mr. B. Muni Venkatappa, headmaster of the school.
“When I used to study in Mittur, there were no cycles, no uniforms now my sister-in-law, Anita is being given solar lamps and books. Both rich and poor must have access to education, I pray,” said Netravati, an ex-student of the school.
Soumya and many kids like her have been benefited by this. Others are still devoid of such a great invention due to non availability of funds and donations. They are hoping for people to come forth and help boost the education of the rest.