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How should India manage the education of several hundred million children over the coming years? “With a better infrastructure fuelled by solar energy”, says Arno Smets, Associate Professor of Photovoltaic Materials and Devices at Delft University of Technology.
As a specialist in solar energy, Smets and his team is taking part in ‘The NewSchool Challenge’ to design renewable school buildings from modular components made in India. “And whether these schools are built high on a remote mountainside or in a city ghetto, they should all provide their pupils with the basic infrastructure”, says Smets. “Public schools in India often lack basic sanitation facilities, for example, so many children, particularly girls, drop out of education because there are no toilets and they don’t feel safe. It’s extraordinary that such a simple thing can block a child’s education!”
With a better infrastructure, schools will need a better energy supply, and that’s where Smets comes in. “1.3 billion people in the world have no access to electricity, and 25% of them live in India so these very poorly electrified populations need small renewable systems like solar panels for schools. Solar energy can provide electricity for lights and ventilators, and in the future, when online and digital education may play a large role, students will need electricity to power their tablets and laptops.”
Co-workers: Nishant Narayan and Anish Bosch
Redefine, design and build smart primary schools for India’s future
Solar power and storage technology
The NewSchool Challenge, UNESCO-IHE, ITT Bombay, UN Habitat