Bringing light to Nyaung U schools: Ceremony held for donation of 450 solar lighting systems to 130 schools
Two teachers are handed an Eneloop Solar Storage System, a source of renewable energy distributed to 130 schools without electricity. Photo: UNESCO Myanmar
Over 13,000 students in Nyaung U township, near the Bagan archaeological site in Myanmar, have better conditions in their school, following the donation of 450 Eneloop Solar Storage Systems to 130 schools. The donation was made by Panasonic in coordination with UNESCO and the Myanmar Ministry of Education, through the project “Strengthening Schools for Education for Sustainable Development”.
The Eneloop Solar Storage Systems were donated to schools which currently lack access to electricity, providing a sustainable and much-needed energy option. They provide a full day of solar lighting and access to power per each charge. To mark the handover, a donation ceremony attended by over 200 teachers, students and parents was held on 17 December 2016 in Nyaung U township. Opening remarks were given by Dr. Thant Sin, Deputy Director General, Department of Alternative Education, Myanmar Ministry of Education. Mr. Hisakazu Maeda, Chief Representative, Panasonic Myanmar welcomed those attending. Ms. Min Jeong Kim, Head of Office, UNESCO Myanmar gave further description of the project and the role of sustainable development in our daily lives and for global prosperity.
The donation was also celebrated with Panasonic’s Eco Learning Program, in which students made their own solar lights and learned that renewable energy can reduce our carbon footprint. The importance of choosing renewable energy was emphasized by Mr. Hisakazu Maeda, as the Eco Learning program’s objective is to “raise local leaders passionate about sustainable development”. This was followed by the first step in building a network of model schools and mentor teachers in the township, as 60 school heads and teachers were trained in an introduction to integrating sustainable development into classrooms.
The donation of the Eneloop Solar Storage Systems is the result of the public-private partnership of Panasonic, UNESCO and the Myanmar Ministry of Education. Increasing awareness and use of renewable energy – which, as noted by Dr. Thant Sin, will be needed to sustainably answer Myanmar’s energy needs – is a featured component of the project “Strengthening Schools for Education for Sustainable Development”. The project, which will also develop teaching materials and teacher trainings, promotes knowledge and skills for sustainable development in classrooms. Sustainable development, as Ms. Min Jeong Kim described, is “development in which all are able to equally prosper and have lives with dignity for generation after generation.” She further noted this project is unique in that it brings together education, science and culture to improve lives. With these three elements, we can share in a culture of peace, using resources in a manner that allows for a harmonious society.
The project will continue through 2017, with the support voiced by the Nyaung U teachers, students, and parents who attended the Donation Ceremony for renewable energy and practicing their skills and knowledge for sustainable development. As stated by Dr. Thant Sin: “This is the proudest day for us since Nyaung U has been chosen as the starting point for public-private partnerships for sustainable development in Myanmar.”