First-ever solar-powered computer lab
  • November 20, 2013

Choiseul Bay provincial secondary school (PSS) has taken ownership of the first ever solar computer lab with internet facilities last week.

The handing over of the lab was done during the school graduation day, Thursday last week. The lab was funded by the capacity development fund (PCDF) made possible by the Provincial Governance Strengthening Program (PGSP). The PGSP was created by ministry of provincial government and institutional strengthening and SIG with the support by Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), UNDP, UNCDF, and EU. The computer lab was built under an existing classroom building with rooms for the computer lab, a caretaker’s office, solar room and sanitation rooms. There are currently 10 computers in the computer labs.

A team consist of two officers from the UNDP/Ministry of provincial government and institutional strengthening and the media went down the project sites last week. The three days visit was to produce a documentary and mainly get feed backs from the people who benefited from the projects.

Two students, Gertrude Vaqalo and Flyn Bates who were being interviewed by the media team said having the new computer lab is a boost for the school. “This is the best opportunity for us students to learn new technology. They said for many years they have been finding it hard to do their research or communicate with the outside world. Bates who is a form three student said he was planning to do his format another school but now that the school has a computer lab he chooses to stay back.

When asked what they will be doing when they access the internet, they said they will do their research and maybe try and open up an email account. They thanked the donors and those who have assisted in making it possible for the school to have a computer lab.

Choiseul Bay PSS is believed the only school in the country to own a solar power computer lab.

Meanwhile the school principal, Herman Aruhane said the computer lab costs almost $1.3 million. He said the school is privileged to own a computer lab in which they will be now exposed to the outside world through the internet access. Aruhane said since the school does not have a library the students can use the internet to do their research.

“Since the students’ are now exposed to the modern technology, their morale in the learning will be high.”

Aruhane said most of the students don’t know how to use a computer, or the internet and this will help taught them in other areas to improve on that.

“With this computer lab, some of the students maybe take IT studies in the future.”

He added that this lab will not only use by the students but also by the teachers in their learning.

“The only challenge ahead is how we will maintain these facilities since they are quiet expensive.”

Currently there are no IT officers to look after the lab so the school will in the meantime take care of the facilities. He said the computer lab might attract teachers coming to the school which will also end the shortage of teachers’ problem that they are facing. Greenie Tutua who is a teacher at the school said she is very happy as she is planning to take up some online courses and will be able to do it at the school lab rather than going to Honiara. She said this facility will attract other qualify teacher.

Care taker of the computer lab Dennis Pitakia who is also a teacher at the school said he will try his best to make sure the students use the internet facilities for education purpose.

“A timetable will be set so the students in which classes know when they will have access to the computer lab."

“By this way it is easy to monitor the student and the internet bill.”

He said during the holidays the teachers can also use the computers labs in order not to disturb the students. Pitakia said though they are very lucky to own a computer lab, there is no air-conditioning system in place.

“During the day the computer lab is very hot."

Speaking at the graduation, provincial minister for education, William Saulalu said since the start of the PCDF in 2008, Choiseul province was ranked first out of the nine provinces for four consecutive years (2008 – 2012) on best performance.

“As a result of its best performance, Choiseul province received more PCDF each year for its capital development.”

He said the solar systems, computer lab building and computer with internet facilities is quiet a big project and a great achievement for the provincial secondary school and the province as a whole.

“Choiseul Bay provincial secondary school is located in the remote part of Solomon Islands and faces challenges in which one of them is communication network and library service."

“Having had this completed computer lab building with computers and internet facilities to be used by students and staff do now solve these challenges and at the same time assist into achieving the goal of providing quality education.”

He urged the school to make good use of it and take good and proper care of them.