• Of more than 8 million children in Uganda's primary schools, only 57% complete P7 (7th grade), and only 1 in 8 enter secondary school. This is mostly due to high school fees and hidden expenses (such as uniforms and food). Very few schools have resources for practical learning, such as science equipment or computers.

  • Only 9% of Uganda's population has access to electricity, mostly in urban areas.

  • Sources: Uganda Ministry of Education and World Bank Databank
How the MSCC began In 2008

We installed a solar powered computer lab at a secondary school in Ruhiira, Uganda, as part of the United Nations Millennium Villages Project (www.millenniumvillages.org). But it soon became clear that, even using new low-wattage computers, the cost of installing permanent solar powered computer labs would limit the number of people the foundation could expose to computer technology.

We set out to find a way to reach a larger audience and introduce computers to as much of the country as possible. This meant taking a computer lab on the road. This inspired the first Mobile Solar Computer Classroom (MSCC) and the development of our emPower Basic training software. By stripping the back seats out of a Toyota RAV4, adding a custom built roof-rack that could hold three solar panels, designing collapsible desks, chairs, and a robust tent, we began to take computers to villages and towns and set up the mobile classroom outside of schools and community centers. The first MSCC could run 5 computers at a time, not requiring any resources from the institutions visited. In 2008, it was introduced at Kitengesa Community Library near Masaka, where community members of all ages were able to touch a computer keyboard and mouse for the first time.

Some of the young people from that first visit are now studying computer sciences at universities in Kampala, and Maendeleo Foundation is working with them to get computer service businesses running.

We now operate two Mobile Solar Computer Classrooms, each providing facilities for training 15 people at a time. Using low-wattage netbooks based on Intel's Atom processor and solar energy, we now have the capability of training 200 people per day on the road.