Learning in the Time of COVID

by | Sep 7, 2020 | LTBLI news and updates

Written by guest author Siriman Kiryowa, a Field Research Analyst at Solar Health Uganda

The Global Pandemic and Education in Uganda

Here in Uganda, students are suffering from the compounded issues of school closings, lack of access to scholastic materials at home and the many interrelated complications of poverty. Last March, Uganda registered our first COVID-19 case. A directive was issued instructing schools to close immediately, and all the children were sent home. They were told to stay there until the lockdown is lifted.

The unexpected and comprehensive lockdown caught everyone unaware! There was no time for teachers to organize study materials, and children returned home without books or other supplies. All transportation was restricted and only ‘essential’ workers (like health and government workers) were allowed to travel to work. Since many parents could no longer earn money, people living without access to lighting were cast into darkness. Whereas children around the world are relying on virtual learning, children in Uganda rarely have electricity let alone access to a computer or internet. Our children now faced the hurdle of learning without teachers, books, and light 

Children are using their solar lights to keep up with school work

Jesca N., aged 12, lives in Kikaaya in the Wakiso District. Her family of 7 depends her mother’s income from selling cooked cow’s head, cassava and sweet potatoes. Jesca says that her studies have been greatly affected by the pandemic. Before COVID-19, her normal day involved waking up early in the morning. Afterwards, she got herself and her siblings ready for school and began walking the 3km to school. At 4.30pm, she and her siblings returned home, a journey of about an hour. On arriving home, chores were waiting for Jesca. By the time she finished, it was already dark and she was exhausted. Afterwards, she read and did homework for 1½ hours before bed.

A new day without school

Due to the lockdown, now Jesca’s day begins at 8am. She starts the household’s chores, while her mother buys supplies at the market. Jesca spends the school day taking care of her 5 siblings, leaving her little time to read during the day.  The only time she finds time to read and study is at night. Because her family received a safe solar light from Let There Be Light International to replace their old polluting and dangerous kerosene lamp, she is able to keep up with some of her studies after dark.

Jesca says this would not be possible if they were still using their old kerosene lantern. Kerosene is expensive, (even in small quantities a household spends 10-30% of income of lighting). And, during the lockdown there is less money for basic necessities and finding fuel is more complicated than ever.

Jesca happily reports:

“Thanks to the solar light donated to our household by Let There Be Light International, my siblings and I are now able to read our books for 2– 4 hours at night, and we can try to catch-up with the syllabus.”

“I am happy that my mum no longer has to spend on household lighting. Now, that money can be used on other household expenses. But, I miss school. I miss my teachers. I also miss my school friends. I am looking forward to the day when the lockdown will be lifted and I go back to school!”


A Short Recap of a Long and Bright Journey

Earlier this month, I traveled with LTBLI Founding Board Member (and exemplary husband), Ben, to Uganda for site visits over the course of 9 action-packed days. Unable to travel since March 2020, due to the global pandemic and then an Ebola outbreak in 2022, LTBLI had...

Shine On Rwanda!

Guest Blog by John Keith and Leah Weinkle   Ten years ago a friend of ours here in Denver started a primary school in Rwanda. Hope Haven Rwanda has recently completed the addition of a secondary school and is the top-performing primary school in Rwanda based on...

Sustainable Energy for All

  A guest blog by Caroline Mwebaza of Solar Health Uganda. Sustainable Energy for All A few months ago, I attended the Sustainable Energy for All Forum in Kigali, Rwanda. l traveled from Uganda as a Delegate on behalf of Let There Be Light International (LTBLI)...

My Summer Solar Internship

Hannah Schulman is this summer's Energy Poverty Intern at Let There Be Light International (LTBLI). She is a rising...

Brightening Lives in Amolatar, Uganda

Last month, Let There Be Light International (LTBLI) implemented one of its most comprehensive solar projects to-date. Working in cooperation with local stakeholders and another US-based nonprofit, LTBLI launched three (3) of its signature solar projects in the...

A Snapshot of our 2022 Solar Celebration

Click here to see the gallery as individual photos. Shine On! [gallery size="large"...

Reflecting on One Million Lives Impacted by Solar Lights

Eight years ago, Let There Be Light International (LTBLI) began solar programming in Uganda with its first official partner. 8 years later, LTBLI is marking a major milestone – One Million lives impacted by solar programming in 3 countries. You may wonder how we...

Solar Lights are Changing Lives in Salalira

Guest blog written by Olivia Owino, M&E and Training Consultant to LTBLI and Solar Health Uganda (based in Uganda).Let There Be Light International’s maternal and infant health project, Safe Births and Healthy Homes (SB+HH), has changed the lives of many mothers...

Lights4Literacy Shines During COVID-19

Guest blog written by Siriman Kiryowa, Solar Health Uganda Field Research Analyst.Lights4Literacy is an innovative solar project in Uganda. It is a collaborative educational program undertaken by Let There Be Light International (LTBLI), Kyosiga Community Christian...

Shine On: Campus Voices – Connor Flynn

Connor Flynn, an Environmental Studies student at The University of Washington, connected with Let There Be Light International while developing his e-commerce clothing brand, Transcendental Dreamer. In an interview with LTBLI Communications Consultant Rachel...