PESHAWAR: The UNOPS Pakistan has installed solar power plants in 1,240 schools in the seven southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in cooperation with the Elementary and Secondary Education Department, and co-funded by the Saudi Fund for Development and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The project created a conducive learning environment by giving schoolchildren in primary and middle schools access to functioning lights and fans in their classrooms to increase comfort and reduce health issues related to extreme heat. By giving schools access to clean, renewable and free electricity, the project will prevent 2,250 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year and save operating costs for the Education Department, says a press release.

In KP, where the temperatures rise up to 50 degrees centigrade in summer, overheated and dark classrooms prevent students from focusing and create health issues, contributing to lower achievements and higher dropout rates. Against this backdrop, the UNOPS Pakistan successfully implemented the Solar Schools Project to help provide universal access to primary and middle education for 135,000 school children, in particular girls, in disadvantaged districts.

Implemented between February 2018 and July 2021, the Solar Schools Project improved the poor state of 1,240 schools’ infrastructure which negatively affected children’s health and their ability to study. UNOPS Pakistan installed solar photovoltaic systems for schools deprived of electricity in Kohat, Hangu, Karak, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan districts. The provision of a reliable and free electricity supply will allow the schools to operate the classrooms’ lights and fans, thereby improving comfort and reducing health issues related to extreme heat.

Nawaf Saeed Al Malkiy, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia said: “At this closing ceremony celebrating the completion of the installation of solar plants in 1,240 primary and middle schools in KP – one of the most important projects supported by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for Development – I am pleased to express my great happiness with this achievement. The project contributes to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on quality education and SDG 7 on clean energy.”

Annabel Gerry, UK’s Development Director, said: “This project will contribute to improving the learning environment for more than 135,000 children in some of the most remote and underserved areas within the province. It will contribute to higher enrolment, higher attendance and better academic performances at these schools, offering brighter future prospects for the children of southern KP.”

She said the Solar Schools Project as part of the larger KP Education Sector Programme represents the UK’s commitment to combating climate change, “showcasing the very best of UK-Pak Dosti.”

Marysia Zapasnik, UNOPS Country Manager for Pakistan, said: “The right to education is a fundamental human right. The improved learning environment in these 1,240 schools will help girls and boys stay in school, attain better exam results and have a better start in life, which will later on improve their livelihood opportunities, enable them to make informed decisions about important aspects of their lives, and, in turn, help with the socio-economic development of their communities, districts, province and country.”

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