DUSHANBE, TAJIKISTAN, May 20—The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Association of Energy Specialists of Tajikistan have launched a pilot program to provide independent sources of renewable energy and education assistance to remote rural communities in Tajikistan.
The pilot site, an orphanage and school in the Jami Region of Khatlon province, was provided with a system that uses sixteen 106 Watt solar modules. The system, fully operational since February 2009, provides uninterrupted electric power for on-site computer classes. The school was outfitted with five energy-efficient laptop computers, a scanner, and a printer. A VSAT satellite system has also been installed on the school grounds, providing students with 24-hour access to the Internet. The site will also function as an “Internet café,” serving the local community after school hours and providing a source of economic sustainability for the project.
Sixteen more solar panels have already been delivered to Tajikistan to be used at two additional schools, where local communities will complete the project.
Funding for the project has been provided by Mr. Oleg Deripaska and Basic Element (Russia). The U.S. Department of Energy has also provided funding for training activities.
Carnegie and the Association of Energy Specialists (part of the Central Asia’s EcoEnergy Alliance) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 20 with remarks by the Honorable Tracy Jacobson, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Tajikistan, and Tajik dignitaries, including members of Tajikistan’s presidential administration and parliament.
The next phase of the project will be the development of a long-distance learning curriculum in remedial math and science education. Additionally, vocational-technical education program will be introduced, with an emphasis on developing small businesses in the region. An internet portal that will offer educational materials in six different languages (Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Uzbek, English, and Russian) is under development. This multi-lingual approach will help facilitate enhanced educational opportunities for minorities and those seeking education beyond their national borders.
Furthering the program’s educational objectives, a vocational educational curriculum will be developed, including continuing education training in occupations such as nursing, mechanics, and renewable energy equipment repair. As the project develops, schools in border regions will be targeted. The program will also develop learning modules explaining the benefits of renewable energy for households as well as their applicability in small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Improving Regional Cooperation
Over the long term, the project will demonstrate how limited resources devoted to renewable energy can improve social conditions in remote communities and enhance regional cooperation in border regions. As funding permits, the project will be expanded to include remote communities in other countries of the Central Asian region.
Martha Olcott, who conceived the project, said:
“This project has been about empowering people through access to electricity—which they previously enjoyed but have lost through acute regional shortages, and about giving young and old Internet access, which for them was an undreamed-of luxury.”
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