In Malawi, the majority of rural secondary schools have no access to electricity. Many of these schools though do have evening study sessions during which time they use kerosene lanterns to provide lighting. Due to the irregular availability of kerosene and its high cost, lighting is provided, at best, on a sporadic basis. In addition, the light provided by these lanterns is generally poor and the smoke from the lanterns is a health problem for many of the students. The limited study time also results in the pass rate for the students on their national exams being extremely low. Details and comments from some of these schools are available at Malawi school comments.
From 2009 to 2018 LED Africa installed and maintained solar powered lighting systems at 21 of these rural secondary schools in Malawi. The lighting system was installed in two classrooms at each of the secondary schools. Each classroom lighting system consists of a solar panel, a battery with controller and eight LED lanterns. The LED Africa system provided enough lighting for approximately 50 students in each classroom for up to 3 hours per evening.
The solar panels, the batteries, and cables were purchased from suppliers within Malawi. The battery box and the stands for the LED lanterns were built by local Malawian carpenters and the lanterns were all assembled in Malawi by Malawians.
As a result of the lighting systems the average pass rate at many of these schools on the National exams rose substantially. In addition, for the first time in the history of some of these schools, students qualified to go on to the National University.
In 2018, as a result of the LED Africa lightning project and the improved performance at the schools, the Malawian government, through a donation from the People's Republic of China, began providing a new solar powered lighting system to rural secondary schools across the country. LED Africa has since kept their system only in those schools which are still waiting for the new system.