Unicef education expert Binay Patnaik (second from left), Ranchi district superintendent of education Jayant Kumar Mishra (third from left) and others at the distribution of solar lamps to Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya officials in Ranchi on Monday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Unicef will light up evenings at 203 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya stay schools instituted for needy girls.
The global outfit gave away 18,000 solar lights on Monday in Ranchi to functionaries of the cradles named after the Mahatma’s wife, a freedom fighter in her own right.
The event was low key — HRD minister Baidyanath Ram under whose department the stay schools run couldn’tmake it there — but the impact of the lamps will be huge.
The solar lights gifted by Unicef will enable well over 40,000 girls studying across 203 Kasturba Gandhi schools, to extend their lessons to evenings. Schools, on limited allocations, also don’t have to spend on kerosene lamps or fuel to run generators. The girls can just place the rechargeable battery under sunlight.
So in effect, the stay schools, which anyway perform well under Jharkhand Academic Council secondary and intermediate board exams with pass percentages of 80 per cent and more, are likely to do still better. It will help a generation of girls to arm themselves with high marks and more important, high self-esteem.
“The schools have to charge the battery for four to five hours a day. They will get light for around three hours. One solar light can suffice for two or three girls studying together. Each school has around 200 girls, so we have distributed the solar lamps according to need,” said Unicef education specialist Binay Patnaik.
It solves the problems of the Kasturba Gandhi cradle at Budmu, 40 km from Ranchi, with 218 girls across classes VI to XII. Though the school has a generator, it gets Rs 60,000 per year for fuel. So authorities can’t really use the generator when they need or want to.
“But now, girls can study without worry,” said Sunita Oraon, an accountant of Kasturba Gandhi cradle, Budmu.
Ashrita Tirkey, hostel warden of KGBV, Garhwa, agreed. “No more worries about generator fuel and low voltage anymore,” she said.
District superintendent of education (Ranchi) Jayant Kumar Mishra and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya state coordinator Anupa Tirkey, at the event, also lauded Unicef’s gesture. The state coordinator also advised hostel wardens and school representatives to maintain the solar systems.
Unicef head (Jharkhand) Job Zachariah said the lamps had been centrally procured by the global outfit in Copenhagen. “I don’t know the cost of each lamp,” he conceded.
It just leaves open one question. What happens when the lamps fuse?