TR13: Education and the electrification of rural schools

The Smart Villages Initiative aims to provide policy-makers, donors, and development agencies concerned with rural energy access with new insights on the real barriers to energy access in villages in developing countries and how they can be overcome. This report aims to give an overview of the links between electricity access and education through a review of the literature in this area. It will serve as a starting point to inform the activities of the Smart Villages Initiative in relation to energy and education. While this report focuses on electricity in schools, it is recognised that energy for other purposes such as cooking, hot water, and (in some regions) space heating, also plays an important role in improving educational quality.

  • Education features very highly in both the UN Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Whilst progress is being made, there are still huge gaps in terms of educational outcomes in developed vs. developing countries.
  • Within developing countries inequalities exist between rich and poor, and rural and urban.
  • Collectively 188 million children attend primary schools that are not ‘connected to any type of electricity supply’, meaning almost one out of every three go to a school without electricity (based on about 660 million children being enrolled in primary school worldwide) (UNDESA, 2014).
  • Energy can make a key contribution to improved education and educational access in rural areas. However, it is one part of the solution with multiple and diverse challenges faced by rural schools.
  • Off-grid renewable energies can play a key role in school electrification.

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