Khushboo Mishra, a class VII student of the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Awasiya Vidyalaya, Shivpura village in Balrampur district of Uttar Pradesh, now feels safe and secure in the school and hostel premises. She not only moves around freely in the school campus after dark, but also utilises the now available electricity in the evening hours to focus on her studies and indulge in extra-curricular activities with her friends.
Shashi Shukla, Principal of this school is the driving force behind the safety, security measures that have been taken care of through fulfilling the lighting needs of the school. She feels relieved that after eight long years she has finally been able to provide safety to the 100 adolescent girls residing in the school’s hostel. Led by Shashi, the school is run by an all-women’s NGO – Tarai Environment Awareness Samiti, providing residential schooling facility to girls from standard VI to VIII, belonging to villages in and around Balrampur district of Uttar Pradesh.
These electricity needs at the school are being met by the recently set-up 30KW peak solar power plant, by TARA under the Smart Power for Rural Development Programme, supported by The Rockefeller Foundation. When Shashi learnt about such an initiative in her village (Shivpura), she decided to go ahead and secure her students with lighting after evening hours. She was the first to register in the village with a ten light bulbs package.
As it is a residential school, the major problem for the school management was to ensure the safety of the girls as well as the staff members (six women and eleven men) which was due to the unavailability/erratic supply of electricity, especially during the night. It was also hindering the day-to-day activities of the students as well as of the teachers and support staff. The parents were also worried about the safety of their girls. The school has a diesel generator, but it had been dysfunctional for the last few months. Moreover, sourcing energy from the diesel generator was turning out to be a costly affair. The school provided the students with small solar lanterns to help them study during the night, but these lanterns were not much efficient and required a lot of maintenance.
The recently set-up 30KW peak solar power plant by TARA has brought a considerable change in the environment of the school as the electricity supply is regular and is fulfilling the current needs of the school students. The students don’t face any hurdle during long hours of study after sunset and the teachers have also started teaching in the evening hours. Shashi has found this as an opportunity to commence life skills lessons for further enhancing the personalities of the students. Extra-curricular activities which were earlier limited to day-time, are now being carried out in the evening hours as well.
The electricity from the solar power plant has also been a boon to the hygiene conditions of the school kitchen. The food is now cooked under bright light, ensuring safe and hygienic food for the students and the staff.
The school is overwhelmingly satisfied with the service provided to them and now feels more confident about the future of the students. The students on the other hand are much happier to live and study in a more conducive environment.
“TARAurja’s electricity has been the most amazing experience for our school. After 6 PM, the happiness of being under bright LED lights, reflects from the students and their motivation to study. We are thankful to TARA for bringing about this change in our students’ lives and wish to have more electricity supply for computers and fans to enhance the learning opportunities and environment for the students” – Shashi Shukla, Principal, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Awasiya Vidyalaya, Shivpura Village, Balrampur.