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Solar lights and gender equality

Solar lights improve opportunities for girls. With savings made by families they can often afford to send more children to school and with a free and clean source of light in the evening everybody gets a chance to study, not just the boys.

With Goal 5 of the Global Goals in mind we explore the impact of gender equality and solar lights a little further. We are in the process of compiling more robust data on this very subject, but until then, we asked two Kenyan research assistants (Juliet and Lilian) to interview head teachers in Nyamira County about girls’ prospects in their schools. Our research into solar lights and gender equality was funded by the UK Department for International Development.


  • “Here in Nyamira most of the parents are poor but those who can afford have bought [a solar light] for their children and we have seen a big change in their children’s school performance. I have noticed that the girls really wake up early and take advantage of the lights and study.” Evans Ombui head teacher, Etono Primary


  • “Some pupils have really improved, and I think it is because of the light our performance mean score has changed. Girls are doing better, they are positive about the lights and using the lights more. The reason, I think, is because they are more at home than the boys.” William Ndubi head teacher, Kegogi Primary School.


  • “[The solar lights] have really helped the children to manage their time well as they get to school early, finish their homework in time. The light is good as it’s portable; children walk with them to school as they leave their homes quite early when it is still dark. Most of the girls are very interested in the lights as they are the ones who use them in the kitchen so they get to use the light more and so I have noticed a change in their performance.” John Momanyi head teacher, Gekondo Primary School.


  • “I noticed before they bought the lights they were not performing so well but after they bought the lights there has been a great improvement in their mean score and it is most of the them as they have time to study; they do not have to struggle with going to look for kerosene. It is mostly the girls as I saw even two girls went to very good schools after their final examination; I can attribute that to the introduction of the lights.” Jeremiah Tanchi head teacher, Esanige Primary School.