The electrification rate in developing countries is drastically low. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, over 500 million people live without electricity, giving the region a total electrification rate of only 28.5%. In the rural areas, this rate drops to only 8%. With the help of EPI, the communities in these impoverished regions are able to enjoy the luxury of light to a degree never experienced before, and this light is as renewable as the enthusiasm of children at play. The system includes a small solar panel primarily for educational purposes. For most, the EPI lanterns displace darkness; for others, the EPI lanterns displace the unnecessary expenditure of money for kerosene, candles, and throwaway batteries. The EPI system is a modest first step of adding infrastructure using renewable sources of energy.
The benefits of hands-on learning have been reported and documented time and again over the years. It has been proven that the more senses a child can involve in the learning process, the more likely it is for them to maintain the information, and the easier it is for them to understand the concepts being taught. Most often, the schools in which EPI works are nothing more than cement buildings with chalkboards and wooden desks. Children use stones to learn counting, and when they run out of paper, they draw in the sand for writing and arithmetic practice. Although these methods are creative, they are insufficient to produce the needed hands-on learning experience of a full science curriculum. The EPI play equipement itself is a living science lab for these children. In addition, EPI utilizes the science kit expertise of Loose in the Lab to provide hands-on science modules to the students. These modules introduce children to material they’ve never seen before. The wires, solar cookers, thermometers, LCD docks, compasses, magnets, rulers, solar cells and other materials in these modules work together to bring science to life for these children everyday!
HEALTH AND SAFETY
In most cases the EPI lantern is the first personal light source available to children of EPI sponsored villages. For those who have had access to light previously, it has most often been an open kerosene flame. According to the World Bank, these devices, when burned indoors, can create effects equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. They also impair vision and are extremely dangerous to burn around the thatched roofed homes of most villagers. Beyond the human health hazards however, the kerosene available to rural villages is of such a low quality that it has negative impacts on the environment. By replacing these kerosene lanterns with safe and “smart” LED lanterns, EPI improves the health and safety of rural villagers and their environment.