The company Aleutia from the UK is currently in the process of building a school in every one of the 47 counties in Kenya. This will allow for the education of more than 20,000 primary school children, while the schools will also all be powered by solar energy. The company began working on this so-called “Solar Classroom in a Box” project in 2013, and they are finally ready to introduce this all-in-one solar classroom. It ships complete with energy efficient computers, cabling and solar panels.
They initially planned to repurposed containers for this, but they soon realized that such a solution was too expensive. The containers were usually rusty and retrofitting them to create classrooms wasn’t cost efficient. The transport and crane costs were also forbidding.
So, in association with University of Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and architects in Nairobi, Aleutia developed a low cost structure, which is well-insulated, easy to transport and scalable. Each of the classrooms is now made of locally available materials, for example cinder blocks, a corrugated tin roof, and a light gauge steel frame.
The classrooms can be flatpacked, so they fit on a single pallet for transportation. Due to this, they can also be transported using locally abundant options such as cattle trucks, which can carry three classrooms.
No crane or heavy machinery is needed to install the classrooms and they can be assembled onsite by local laborers. The pieces come in a flatpack package, and are numbered to ease the construction process.
Each classroom can be built in two days, with day one needed to construct the basic structure assembled. Once this is done, the solar panels are attached to the mounting rails on the roof, then the computer equipment is set up.
Each of the classrooms has 10 computers for students and one for the teacher. These are the Aleutia T1 computers, which are fanless, sturdy and economical. The teachers’ computers are pre-loaded with an offline English language version of Wikipedia and Khan Academy.
Kenya is the eighth sub-Saharan African nation to receive Aleutia’s “Solar Classrooms in a Box” of which over 240 have already been deployed. Each of the classrooms costs just $20,000, of which $10,000 is spent on the structure and $10,000 on the equipment.