• Connecting underserved students to digital education

      Made from refurbished shipping containers and powered by the sun, the Solar Learning Labs are a bridge connecting young learners to the digital world outside their communities. Together with our nonprofit partner Computer Aid International and like-minded contributors, Dell Technologies will open 100 of these labs worldwide by 2030, opening new opportunities to tens of thousands of children in the years to come.

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      What is a Solar Lab?

      The Solar Learning Lab is a standard shipping container that has been converted into a classroom, equipped with solar panels and user stations featuring workstations and network technology from Dell Technologies. With the addition of outside space and laptops, each lab can offer up to 20 people at a time a wireless connection to learning materials. To provide a comfortable experience, each lab features high-quality furnishings and good insulation from the elements as well as a community space that can be used for training or as an Internet café. Some labs (such as the first lab in Mexico City) are set up as double labs, featuring two classrooms that share a single roof and provide a covered area for outdoor classes when weather permits. Double labs are often also equipped with Dell laptops for mobile learning.

      Solar Learning Labs can be found in 6 countries, with new labs in development in several more:

      • Mexico
      • Colombia
      • Morocco
      • Kenya
      • Ethiopia
      • South Africa

      Located in areas where access to information technology is scarce, each Solar Lab is a force for transformation and inclusion. Every lab is a place where young learners can develop 21st-century skills, with many labs offering learning resources in advanced technology. The exteriors of many labs are decorated with murals by local artists, marking them as a point of pride in their communities.

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      Sustainable access for underserved communities

      Increasing access to quality education is at the core of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Affordable, reliable access to technology has been shown to be highly correlated with wide-ranging benefits, especially in quality education, which is key to opening future job opportunities and escaping poverty. The Solar Learning Labs offer a cost-effective way to upgrade the learning experience for students and bolster teachers’ capabilities, with the added benefit of providing digital access to countless adults in surrounding communities.

      Solar Labs embody all aspects of Dell’s Social Impact program, from using ecofriendly products and energy sources to providing economic opportunity to people through access to technology, with every lab supported by partnerships. The commitment to sustainability is seen in the use of reused shipping containers and solar energy, with minimal environmental impact compared to a typical brick-and-mortar schoolhouse. Lastly, Solar Labs provide a tangible target for the collective efforts of schools and businesses that want to support underserved students.

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      Transforming education for the digital era

      Each Solar Learning Lab is equipped with a classroom’s worth of Dell Technologies computers and networking gear, designed to run on a thin-client network with minimal power needs. These products were selected for durability, long life, and energy efficiency. When equipment breaks or is otherwise lost, replacement products are provided at no cost to the labs.

      • 1 PowerEdge T430
      • 1 Dell M900 projector
      • 1 Windows Server 2012
      • 12 Dell Wyse 5010 Thin Clients
      • 12 Dell 19 monitors
      • 1 Dell mobile projector
      • 1 VMware Horizon View 

      Many labs also feature software support from Microsoft Corp., which provides in-kind donations of licenses. To date, Microsoft has provided nearly $180,000 USD in Windows and Office software for computers in Solar Labs.

    • Setting the stage for digital learning

    • Computer Aid also provides access to STEM learning content and provides IT support through in-country partners. Solar Labs embody all aspects of Dell’s Social Impact program, from using ecofriendly products and energy sources to providing economic opportunity to people through access to technology, with every lab supported by partnerships. The commitment to sustainability is seen in the use of reused shipping containers and solar energy, with minimal environmental impact compared to a typical brick-and-mortar schoolhouse. Lastly, Solar Labs provide a tangible target for the collective efforts of schools and businesses that want to support underserved students.

      Once a lab is in place, Computer Aid conducts a baseline survey to measure technology literacy and identifies teachers to receive training in the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) program, an international standard for demonstrating computer literacy.

    • Computer Aid also provides access to STEM learning content and provides IT support through in-country partners. Solar Labs embody all aspects of Dell’s Social Impact program, from using ecofriendly products and energy sources to providing economic opportunity to people through access to technology, with every lab supported by partnerships. The commitment to sustainability is seen in the use of reused shipping containers and solar energy, with minimal environmental impact compared to a typical brick-and-mortar schoolhouse. Lastly, Solar Labs provide a tangible target for the collective efforts of schools and businesses that want to support underserved students.

    • I had no idea what I wanted to study … I got my inspiration from the Solar Lab at my school. It gave me the love for technology, and I developed an interest to study information technology.

      –Kgothatso Nkwana, Student at Waverly Girls School in South Africa
    • Solar Labs are symbols of inclusivity and opportunity

      Many Solar Labs are decorated by local artists, expressing themes of the power of education, hope for the future, and pride in their communities and cultures.

    • I don’t know how robots work, I want to find out how you make them, and maybe study robotics at university.

      –Verónica, Mexico City
    • News and resources

    • Driving Digital Access for the One and the One Billion

    • Get involved

    • News on Solar Lab launches

    • Essential Resources

      More about Solar Learning Labs

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      Solar Labs Infographic

      Fun, informative illustration of a lab. Great for sharing.

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      Thank-You Video

      Kids at the Bokamoso School in South Africa love their lab! Thanks to our nonprofit partners Code for Change and CodeJIKA.

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      Computer Aid Overview

      In-depth overview of the Solar Learning Labs program from Computer Aid.

    • Learn more about our progress

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      FY20 Progress Made Real Report

      In our first report on our social impact plan for 2030, we focus on thoroughly explaining methodologies and data that show our starting points for our 2030 goals.

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      Developing a more diverse workforce with STEM

      We’re committed to providing the building blocks of tomorrow’s digital workforce, regardless of race, gender, or ability.