Education is the cornerstone of a nation’s future and hence access to education is a basic human right. To achieve Millennium Development Goal 2 Universal Primary Education – 1.8 million new teachers need to be trained by 2015 in sub-Saharan Africa. This will not happen. Sub-Saharan Africa has 45% of the world’s out-of-school children coupled with high drop out rates, especially amongst girls. Vulnerable children, rural women, and refugees are the least likely to be literate, making gainful employment less likely and placing Internet access beyond reach. Technology solutions combined with access to renewable energy are needed to provide a platform for lifelong learning. This is Lifeline Energy’s mission. Its Founding CEO Kristine Pearson understood that access to education and addressing energy poverty are key players for sustainable development, particularly for women and children. Actually, radio remains the most important mass communication medium across the developing world and transcends literacy, poverty and geography. Its power to educate and inform is just as important now as it was 50 years ago. Lifeline Energy, in collaboration with its for-profit subsidiary, Lifeline Technologies, designs, manufactures and distributes solar and human powered media players and radios for group listening. Cellphones, the Internet and tablets have made significant inroads in Africa; however, they are mainly for individual use. Lifeline Energy, with its focus on products aimed at group listening, can accommodate 60 learners.
Since the project’s inception, more than 540.000 power independent radios media players have been distributed mostly by institutions but also by individuals and family foundations, impacting more than 20 million lives. Its groundbreaking Lifeplayer MP3 is the world’s first media player, 5-band radio and recorder for humanitarian use designed for distance education and stores up to 64GB of content. Using microSD cards content can be updated via smart phones or the Internet. It records live voice or radio broadcasts for listening later. On-board monitoring software enables data collection to determine how and when the device is being used. Tens of thousands of Lifeplayers are being integrated into teacher training, educational and agricultural initiatives mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Hundreds of thousands will learn English from the Lifeplayer as a result of a partnership with the British Council.