Lanterns for Learning

    December 10, 2019


    From increasing study hours to allowing families to enjoy dinner together after the sun sets, the Lanterns for Learning stories suggest that solar lights are much more than just a light.


    “We couldn’t read at night,” says Saumu Ismaili, from Marwa, a rural Tanzanian village. “Using a single kerosene lamp, we cooked, went to bed, and walked around our neighborhood in darkness. We couldn’t even make our bed at night because the room was always too dark.”

    After the death of their father in 2006, Saumu and her younger brother Luseriani, have been raised by their mother Teresia. From building them a home by hand to farming cattle, Teresia is the backbone of her family.

    When the Lanterns for learning initiative was launched, it was Teresia who got the family involved. The initial 12-month pilot program distributed nearly 500 solar lights to students and families, including the Ismailis.

    The initial 12-month pilot program distributed nearly 500 solar lights to students and families, including the Ismailis.''

    Solar lights to students
    Nearly 40 additional large solar home lighting systems were distributed to teachers, classrooms, medical staff, and Village Council Offices, where they support critical educational, medical, and social services for the community.

    The impact can’t be overstated.
    Solar lights to families

    Life-long learning and impact

    Research by Santa Clara University has shown the important role of solar lighting in improving educational outcomes in Tanzania. Over 90% of parents interviewed by Santa Clara reported an increase in their child’s academic performance due to solar light ownership.

    Having access to a reliable lighting source increases the amount of study hours that children have to complete their schoolwork. More importantly, the increased brightness of solar lights allows multiple students to use one light and study collaboratively.

    According to Saumu, “Our house looks so clean! With a very bright light we’re able to do many things at night. We see each other when we sit together for dinner, I read story books, do school homework, and teach my young brother how to read and write.”

    Having a reliable lighting source increases the amount of study hours that children have and allows multiple students to use one light and study collaboratively.''

    Lanterns for Learning is supported by partnership organizations including: Signify Foundation, Marwa Village, the Kilimanjaro Hope Organization (KiHO), and the Sustainable and Resilient Tanzania Community program of the University of Dodoma, and Ohio State University.

    Building the local market for solar

    Increased education is isn’t the only expected outcome of the Lanterns for Learning pilot. Through the distribution of the lights, the program aims to increase community awareness about the benefits of solar lighting and the work of Solar Sister Entrepreneurs.

    Raising awareness of the dangers of kerosene and the benefits of using solar, helps Solar Sister to build the market for solar in surrounding communities. The testimonials from those who received the lights are especially powerful.

    While the impacts of the program won’t fully come to fruition until next year, many families, like the Ismailis, now have access to reliable lighting and energy. Teresia notes that she no longer has to walk to shops to charge her cell phone because she can do it right from home for free.

    Mama Namayani, another woman who’s participating in the Lanterns for Learning Project, agrees: “The solar lights have not only liberated our children to study at night, but also light our homes while cooking, making beds, and birthing. We also have light while taking care of sick children at night and while walking to the shop when it’s dark.”

    Measuring the impact of solar power

    The project will measure the impact of solar products on children’s education through school attendance, academic performance, solar technology engagement, as well as through sales of solar technology.

    In the meantime, according to the people of Marwa village, the new solar energy technology has transformed their lives. They’re using the solar lights in private homes, schools, and public spaces, to the benefit of the whole community.

    About the author:

    Alicia Oberholzer

    Alicia Oberholzer,


    Communications Fellow at Solar Sister

    For further information, please contact:

    Head of Corporate Content, Signify
    Neil Pattie
    Tel: + 31 6 15 08 48 17

    About Signify


    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals and consumers and lighting for the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact connected lighting systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. With 2020 sales of EUR 6.5 billion, we have approximately 39,000 employees and are present in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We achieved carbon neutrality in 2020, have been in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index since our IPO for four consecutive years and were named Industry Leader in 2017, 2018 and 2019. News from Signify is located at the Newsroom, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors can be found on the Investor Relations page.

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