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Samsung's Solar-Powered Internet School

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the bright-ideas dept.

The Internet 32

An anonymous reader writes "Samsung has developed a solar-powered internet school for Africa. Although its more of a CSR initiative to show how 'responsible' they are, the idea is really good. Hopefully, more companies will chime in the near future, and not only include Africa but also other 3rd world regions"

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Right-o (0)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849178)

Sounds like a frosty post.

Africa seems to be trendy at the moment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37849240)

Oxfam Australia called me last night trying to get donations for a crackpot scheme - growing pineapples in Mozambique [] . Hardly a staple food crop, and not particularly fast-growing either.

Re:Africa seems to be trendy at the moment (2)

Pax681 (1002592) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849376)

you moron, it's a CASH CROP
from your link

Oxfam Australia is helping Ecerina and her community grow a special variety of drought-tolerant pineapples. Once the crop is nurtured using minimal water, this super fruit can then be eaten, traded for other vegetables or sold at the market for much needed income.
By selling her pineapples
, Ecerina can afford to buy food as well as school materials for her grandchildrenl. Her grandchildren are now healthier and happier.

Re:Africa seems to be trendy at the moment (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849448)

It is also easily preserved. Just slice and sun dry. Thus making for an easy to transport cash crop.

It's Cloudy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37849320)

No school today!

School for black people (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37849334)

What will they think of next? Screen doors for submarines?

Could the submission be any more bitchy? (1)

Yeknomaguh (1681980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849362)

Putting responsible in quotes, complaining that other companies aren't doing the same thing, and complaining that they're only doing it Africa. Next submission "Cure for AIDS discovered" - "Well, its not like they cured cancer, and I'm sure the drugs will cost a lot." Go die in a fire, you're holding the rest of us back.

Re:Could the submission be any more bitchy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37851064)

You are really seriously telling us, that you haven't noticed how most companies suddenly started throwing "Look how responsible we are." brochures and advertisements around?
It's like with Internet nicknames: It's not what they are, but what they want you to think they are. (HotBlonde22 = FatBaldMale44; HugeGayMan = LittleGirlWhoDoesntWantYouToHitOnHer; etc.)
And they want you to think it, because they aren't it and they know it. Best example: BP, who released a video showing how oh-so-responsible they are... right after the biggest environmental destruction since who knows how long. But you can find those brochures in every bank, pharmacy, gas station, the Monsanto website, and so on.

Our argument is, that experience has told us, that they are usually lying scum. And so it is highly likely that they are just acting nice, so they can stab us in the back when we look away.

Re:Could the submission be any more bitchy? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 2 years ago | (#37856842)

Agreed entirely.

We've had mobile schools for ages, and we've had solar-powered schools for ages -- in the rural valleys of the Andes, they've set up many schools with solar power in places with no mains, and a network of solar-powered microwave relays to bring in an internet signal. This has allowed them to start offering secondary education (and even university degrees) to people in isolated areas without forcing them to board in the cities. And of course, this isn't all that different from the Australian outback schools.

So while it's no doubt a useful thing, it is by no means the revolution that Samsung seems to be keen to market it as -- it's merely another step in a long evolution.

Now, while the mobile design means it can be used as a supplementary education resource for various schools on a time-share basis, the downside is that it won't function as a "learning centre" for distance learning like the Bolivian and Peruvian primary schools now do. This means that the product on offer doesn't use IT to increase the availability of "education", just the availability of "IT education", so it doesn't strike me as the best value for money....


Alternate green power (2)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849406)

They should build an Earthquake-Powered internet school. there's a LOT of energy available from a single earthquake. Just look at the amount of power it would require to bring down large numbers of buildings using conventional technology, as is done during a single quake. So what if the classes can only in session during an earthquake, we're talking about green energy here. The solar powered school can be brought down by a little bit of bad weather, so ut's not perfect either.

Re:Alternate green power (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849480)

Sorry, but it just does not compare overall to just using lightning, plus lightning is available everywhere, not just near faults.

One earthquake might be able to power the school for a few years, but what happens when you don't have an earthquake for decades?

Not only is lightning more frequent, one of the major hotspots for lightning is already in Africa.

Mobile School (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849458)

Looks like one of the advantages of their project is that the school is portable, but in this case it is an insulated cargo container.

Wouldn't a bus work better? That way it can move to village to village and all those villages can share a teacher.

Re:Mobile School (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849504)

Cargo containers can be moved with a semi, on a railcar or with a boat. Seems like a bus would be more limiting.

Re:Mobile School (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849548)

No, it wouldn't. With a bus, when the engine breaks down, the whole school is down until the vehicle can be fixed. With a cargo container, it can be put on the back of a truck, and if that truck breaks down, you can move it to another truck. The chances of the vehicle part breaking is dramatically higher than the rest of the setup. All putting it in a bus would do is lock the container to a particular vehicle.

Re:Mobile School (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37850468)

The school is "portable" in the sense that it can be manufactured someplace and used someplace else. In rural Africa, traveling between villages takes a few hours. Including set-up and tear-down time, a single classroom mounted on a bus could only reach two or three villages in a day, if there's no mechanical trouble. That also means that the class has to be taught all the same material in the single class each day.

other 3rd world regions? (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849482)

and not only include Africa but also other 3rd world regions

Wait a sec! Is that code for "California?"

Re:other 3rd world regions? (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849506)

No just looking forward in time to when it will be the US in general.

Re:other 3rd world regions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37850388)

Yep, because all these countries are in Africa AMIRITE!?

Why is Africa on everyone's mind? (4, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849590)

Africa is the target, because Africa is the last great reservoir of cheap labor. This will be important in the coming decades as rising prosperity in Asia increases the cost of doing business there.

Re:Why is Africa on everyone's mind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37849638)

Get real, we're moving to robots full-on after Asia. Africa is too politically unstable, plus they chased all the white people out of Zimbabwe. Not to mention the crime-ridden hole South Africa is turning into. Any dreams of industrializing that place is not based on reality.

Re:Why is Africa on everyone's mind? (4, Interesting)

demachina (71715) | more than 2 years ago | (#37850006)

As best I recall Kenya [] is fast becoming a new call center out sourcing hot spot. Population is already fluent in English, well educated,, they gained serious Internet fiber optic capacity in 2009, similar time zone to Europe, especially good for British customer support.

Re:Why is Africa on everyone's mind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37852410)

Except that Asians are very hard-working, while Africans (especially men), are not. A major change in their culture is required for them to be used as a large labor force.

Mail from Solar Powered Internet School (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37849656)

Dear Sir Madam,
School of Samsung Internet School decides to give you $64.000.0000 sixtee for million dollars. For because your late grand great father has died and has not living relatives. I implore you give me your name address bank details and pecial pictures of your girl friend.
Thanks you,
Samsung ...

Seems legit.

A bit ridiculous (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37850662)

So let me get this straight... they built a school in a shipping container, with an electronic whiteboard, air purifier, and LED lighting? And they expect this to somehow stay intact in rural Africa? Almost nobody in those villages is going to understand the value of education. From their perspective, it's all just a shiny piece of technology to be sold off by the first person who can steal it.

The sad part is, that statement is not intended to be racist or discriminatory in any way. I personally have volunteered in Africa, and I doubt very much that these folks from Samsung have spent much time at all in the rural villages they want to help so much.

Here's a better idea: Take those solar panels, and build a charging station. Distribute flashlights to the village. Now those villages have a longer usable day, where working on the meager farms is not really feasible. Now they can learn. Spend most of the rest of the money on books. For a chalkboard, use a piece of plywood covered in black paint made from charcoal. It works. Get a few teachers who have actually graduated from college, give them supplies, fund their classes for three years, then rotate them out to avoid apathy.

What I saw (in rural Ghana, which as I understand is well above the continental average) was that among those few students who had a desire to learn, none were paired with teachers who actually cared about teaching. They haven't had schools for the last three generations, so why bother now? In their opinion, it's more important to learn how to cook an egg, so you can sell it to the passengers on buses at the gas station.

Re:A bit ridiculous (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37850808)

Even here in the US, when I see those fancy electronic whiteboards I wince. It is not only wasteful distraction to learning, but encourages shallow PowerPoint-esque teaching. I agree that chalk, a wooden blackboard, books, and a smart, motivated, and idealistic teacher would be vastly more appropriate.

Re:A bit ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37852386)

You make a great deal of sense. Some years ago I heard a man from Nigeria give a talk. Everyone was thinking of IT based solurions when the problems were actually a brain drain flowing toward the cities, and firewood gathering.

These useless ideas of which I also have been guilty come from people who are not on the ground there. So I wish this South African team good luck and want to see what happens. Maybe their truck could deliver food and medecine?

samsung??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37850714)

apple did this first!! Samsung just ripped them off! ;-)

Re:samsung??? (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 2 years ago | (#37852644)

Don't be silly. Containers don't have rounded corners.

we have one in US too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37851598)

We have one near the Navajo Reservation here in Arizona too. [] Has that made the news?

World's first? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37852342)

Sounds neat. But 2 notes..

1) Over 10 years ago (1997 IIRC) artist Ingo Gunther and an architect designed a mobile shipping container based classroom with computers in it. I helped publicize it by posting the drawings online at our ISP Cyber Technologies International too. Metal walls would stop bullets too. However, no phone lines, and military would seek out radio signals. Anyway, I remember discussing the project in the context of building educational infrastructure in Cambodia which was pioneered by Bernard Krisher who we have supported ever since then and who built hundreds of rural schools there. His schools have a solar option. Cambodiaschools and Villageleap on google IIRC.

I could be wrong but think the architect was
David Weiner, [Inter] Net Container Project, 1997
as this is Ingo's site.

2) I'd like to know how much money is spent per child and how/if they do net uplink, and is this supposed to be a self-sustaining program. Building a school is not that expensive, maybe 20K USD with world bank providing half. I am uncomfortable with the idea the school might leave.. If they have satellite though this would be a valuable mobile clinic. So if Samsung will provide guaranteed satphone connectivity I'm ready to praise them endlessly. Should be within their portfolio.

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37852818)

Apple sued Samsung, in order to prevent them to further install other solar power plants for school, a technology that is infringing several Apple patents.

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