Enrolment in Punjab’s public schools has risen since the installation of solar panels and access to electricity, according to the CEO of the District Education Authority, Shamshir Ahmad Khan.
Approximately 10 percent of schools in Punjab are not connected to the electricity grid and are without power, as noted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Summer temperatures in the south of Punjab frequently reach 40°C. Even the schools that are connected to the grid are not doing well due to weak transmission and distribution networks, and power outages in Pakistan can last up to 10 hours every day in rural regions.
In response, the government began installing solar panels to provide power to schools in remote locations with minimal or no electricity. The ADB provided funding for this project with a $325 million loan that covered both Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) where around 20 percent of the schools are off-grid.
The five-year project began in 2017 and is nearing completion. Significant progress has been made so far as more than 12,700 government schools have been powered with solar panels, including almost 10,000 schools in Punjab and more than 2,000 in KP. The project has impacted more than 1.4 million children, according to the ADB.
More solar panels are being installed in over 4,200 schools in Punjab and over 6,000 in KP
Schools with solar panels are saving millions in utility expenditures and have uninterrupted power supplies. Solar-powered schools in Punjab save approximately Rs. 509 million each year, and some of these schools even profit from the excess electricity by selling it to the national grid.
Additionally, nearly 2,500 basic health facilities are being equipped with solar panels to provide uninterrupted healthcare delivery, according to the ADB.
The Energy Department’s Project Director for the Access to Clean Energy Investment Program, Arif Qesrani, remarked that technical training sessions on how to maintain the solar panels have been organized to enable the schools and health units to fix simple problems on their own.