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Solar powers brighter future for nomadic children

Updated: 2011-10-03 15:57
By Erik Nilsson and Yu Chenkang (chinadaily.com.cn)

While Yege's children are the township's first generation who can read, they would effectively become illiterate after dusk.

That's because there was no electricity, and, therefore, no lights, in the seven tents that the nearly 80 students call "dorms".

But that changed in early August, when the nonprofit Step Up, Solidarity to End Poverty — United for Progress, installed two high-voltage solar panels through its Brighter Future project.

The children cheered when first light bulb turned on in their tent.

The school's deputy headmaster Yongdingquepab says, "The solar panels have given the children new eyes."

These students are the first generation to go to school in this Tibetan community of about 2,000 nomadic yak herders in Qinghai province's Yushu prefecture.

More than half of the heads of nomadic households surveyed by the World Bank can't read and have never attended school. But two-thirds of those with solar panels can.

Most adults in Yege township don't know numbers, but their children do. And they're proud to be different from their parents.

Deputy headmaster and math teacher of Yege's primary school Yongdingquepab holds up a 100-yuan bill and explains.

Most of Yege's 137 primary school students started school only a few years ago. Their parents previously believed they should herd yaks instead of study.

The teachers traveled from tent to tent over hundreds of kilometers to explain the value of education to the families.

Related Story: The future looks solar bright for herders' kids

Video: Erik Nilsson

Editor: Yu Chenkang

Producer: Flora Yue

Solar powers brighter future for nomadic children