This solar school bag project is the first of its kind in Pakistan

Pakistan's first solar school bag project was launched on February 9, 2018 in Faisalabad city. School bags play one of the most important roles in child education. According to the founder of Slum School Faisalabad, one solar school bag will help & support minimum of 12 children with their education, will promote girl’s education by being a source of help to her family as well, promoting the girl’s right to education. It will cater many problems faced by rural children that result from lack of electricity in the area.

Rohayl’s definition of a Solar School Bag is: “A school bag that charges during the day so that poor children and those involved in child labor can at night.”

According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan, the country’s literacy rate declined from 60 percent to 58 percent in 2017. Pakistan is among those 12 countries in the world that spends less than 2.4pc of the GDP on education. Along with this, over 3 million girls do not attend primary school in Pakistan, according to a 2013 UNESCO report.

The reasons to this declining literacy rate however, are many including poverty, population expansion, low allocations, lack of education for girls and lack of schools in rural areas. Pakistan has still some areas where there is no electricity and people have no resources to even access it.

This means that at night, several entire communities are plunged into darkness. This darkness not only leaves people in a backward and other worldly lifestyle but also makes education impossible for their future generations. Girls suffer the most as the people in rural areas do not believe in getting them educated. According to ABC news (American Broadcasting Company), almost 49 percent of girls in Pakistan who begin primary school leave before completing the final grade. More than half of all adults in Pakistan have received no education and only 40 percent of adult women can read and write, compared with 69 percent of men.

Rohayl Varind’s Solar School bags are also an attempt to promote girls education by promoting and transforming school bags into solar school bags which will be a source of help for their whole family. School bags hold most important position in education. Through this, a girl’s school bag will help her family members and their family will understand the power of education & school bag. Educating girls and young women is not only one of the biggest moral challenges in our society but it is also a necessary investment for a peaceful and poverty-free world.

If we won’t give girls equal access to quality education, the world will continue to suffer from child and maternal mortality, female diseases due to unawareness and other byproducts of poverty. According to a report by Alif Ailaan, Pakistan has the second-largest number of out-of-school female students in the world, with 13 million girls out of school.
Rohayl’s first project was Faisalabad’s Slum School. The school was an attempt to educate children living in slums of Pakistan. Its slogan was “An attempt to win war against poverty, illiteracy and terrorism”

The night school also functions with the help of Solar panels so that the unprivileged children who work at day can study at night with the help of solar lights. It is also a huge help for those girls who work as maids and thus are unable to carry on their education and most of the time are forced to leave their study.

According to Rohayl, he started second project “Pakistan’s First Solar School Bag Project” because kids living in slums & underprivileged areas of Pakistan mostly don't have safe sources of light to study at night, or to do their homework. Not only this, they also face the daily danger of walking to and from toilet as in many areas there are no toilets even in houses and the children have to defecate in the open toilets situated on streets, including girls. (Note: There are 41 million people who do not have access to toilet in Pakistan). He also emphasized the need to promote education equally among boys and girls.

According to him, many children are put at risk while going out of their houses and slums at night because it is too dark. Children in rural areas often had been attacked by animals roaming around the crops fields. In addition to this, the houses in many areas lack adequate light for basic household activities like preparing meals, washing clothes etc. Solar School bags have long wire/cable with them so that they can easily be used anywhere. Moreover they can be hanged on trees or roofs as well.

A single solar school bag can help and support not only 1 child but the whole family. As a solution to this problem, Rohayl decided to transform simple School Bags into Solar School Bags. Each solar school bag features a solar panel at its back that charges at day and can be utilized at night for studying, getting out of home in dark and can also be a source of help for their family in their household chores when they are at home. Yes, the whole family because the solar school bag has the long lasting battery and the capacity to charge 2 bright bulbs and a USB port. It will not only improve living standards but will also provide safety for the family.

The good news is that “Pakistan’s First Solar School Bag project” is coming to Lahore and other cities of Pakistan soon so this battle to win war against poverty and illiteracy has just started so let’s wish Rohayl Varind a very Best of Luck for it as both “Solar Night School for Slum Children” and “Pakistan’s First Solar School Bag Project” will ultimately contribute to the literacy rate of Pakistan.

The writer is a Media Graduate and a Broadcast Journalist by profession. She has a keen interest in reading, storytelling, writing and possesses a critical view of the various dilemmas of Pakistani society, especially those concerned with the oppression of women. Follow her on Twitter.

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