Lighting up children’s education in faraway schools with solar power

Education is the key foundation for development of children, whose future roles will contribute to sustainable growth and development of our nation. Energy Technology Business Group of BANPU, the leading integrated energy solutions company in Asia-Pacific, has brought its ‘Light & Learn’ project to the third year with a commitment to boost learning opportunity of children and teachers at off-grid schools in remote areas, lighting up their schools with solar power system to make learning possible at any time of day. BANPU recently took volunteers together with a specialised team of power engineers to install solar power systems and hand over classroom equipment and learning media to 15 schools within the precinct of Mobile Development Unit 36, 3rd Regional Development Office, Armed Forces Development Command in Mae Hong Son. The visits gave them access to clean energy in support learning for self-development and a better quality of life.

Mrs.Somruedee Chaimongkol, Chief Executive Officer of Banpu PCL, said, “At BANPU, we believe that learning is the power of change and development. We have consistently made our contributions with a focus on education for children, in line with our ESG sustainability principles that take account of the environment, society and governance. Combined with leading expertise in energy technology and solar power system, we bore ‘Light & Learn’ project that seeks to install solar power systems to off-grid schools in remote areas. It extends educational opportunity to the children and broaden the world of learning for their self-development and inspire them to contribute to their society and the nation in the future.”

Launched in 2017, the Light & Learn project completed its third-year mission in December 2019, when BANPU joined forces with the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters to install solar power solutions at 15 schools within the precinct of Mae Hong Son-based Mobile Development Unit 36, 3rd Regional Development Office, Armed Forces Development Command. Of them, eight is in Sop Moei, four in Pai, and three in Mae Sariang districts. All located in backcountry areas on high mountains, these schools are not connected to the power grid. Installing solar power systems will allow the children to have better-quality education. BANPU brought its team of engineers on site surveys, customize-design a system for the location and electricity needs of each school, and then install the solar power generation and storage system for all-day availability of power supply. The team also trained school people on system maintenance and provided satellite dishes and TV sets to enable children’s access to information and distance learning.

Col. Monrat Ratanavanich, Commander of Mobile Development Unit 36, 3rd Regional Development Office, Armed Forces Development Command, Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, “On behalf of Mae Hong Son residents, I would like to express our appreciation for BANPU’s provision of solar power systems to schools in our province. At present, more than 45% of schools in the province is still not electrified. While some students and teachers who live far away have to depend on school lodging, a solar power system complete with storage battery can light up their nights, allowing the kids to do their reading and the teachers to prepare for next day’s classes, in addition to powering learning equipment, such as TV and satellite systems, in their day-to-day learning.”

Miss Prapawan Srisuwan, teacher/administrator at Ban Mae Aok Nue Child Development Center in Sop Moei, revealed, “While electricity is important to a child development center like ours, we are unfortunately off-the-grid. A solar power system is therefore our much-needed solution. Now we can fully use solar power for our schooling, thanks to BANPU for equipping our center with the solar power system and storage battery. The company also taught us how to maintain them to keep the system performing efficiently. I am glad for the children. They can now learn from electronic media that will help broaden their view of the world.”

“Over the past three years, BANPU has already equipped more than 50 faraway schools with our giveaway solar power systems because we do not want distance and deficiency to deprive the learning opportunity from Thai children. BANPU will continue to light up the school life of children in off-grid locations with clean energy. Moreover, we will promote the use of clean energy in all sectors to drive Thailand’s smart city development, in favour of a society where convenience and sustainability co-exist,” Mrs Somruedee concluded.