Image credit: Lifeline Energy
Remember how the Freeplay Lifeline radio brought educational content to rural communities in Africa? Or how the Freeplay Foundation was bringing reliable lighting to students in Rwanda? Their latest offering is again about bringing educational audio content to folks who need it most and providing autonomous, reliable power to do so—but this time they'll be using MP3s. Could this be the iPod of development?Renewable Energy Stimulates Education
From solar transforming school performance in East Africa to the birth of solar entrepreneurship in the majority world, we already know that providing reliable sources of electricity—even relatively small amounts—can be life changing.
The Limitations of Radio
As the original Freeplay Radio showed, combining that power generation capacity with educational content and communication is a powerful force. But radio has its obvious drawbacks too—most notably requiring audiences to stick to a particular schedule, and not being able to press pause, rewind or replay information that is particularly relevant.
On Demand Information for Africa
That's why Lifeline Energy (the new name for the Freeplay Foundation) created the Lifeline MP3 player—championed by Tom Hanks, and featured last Fall on our own Planet 100 show. By combining solar and wind-up power generation with a light and the ability to play MP3 files, Lifeline hope to take remote education to the next level of usability:
The Lifeplayer represents the first time that the extremely poor have the opportunity to access real-time information on demand anytime, anywhere - in even the most remote locations -- without concern for electricity or batteries. The device serves as an ideal medium for instructing groups in English, math, science, financial literacy, business training and other subjects where there is a shortage of skilled teachers. It also will be used to teach government and private sector workers, as adult education is almost non-existent in developing countries.
Crucially, the unit is also designed for playing to an audience—in fact up to 60 people can listen to and make use of a Lifeplayer at any one time. Kind of beats my little iPod...
More on Communication, Energy and Education in Africa
The Freeplay Lifeline Radio
Freeplay Foundation Brings Lighting to Students in Rwanda
Solar Transforms School Performance in East Africa
Solar Entrepreneurship Brings Energy and Income to Rural Communities