Light for better learning in China


    On the 12th of May 2018, a team of Signify China volunteers set out on a mission to assess and improve the lighting conditions in several schools in the Shangri-La area.

    During the inspection, the team observed that the lighting condition in most of the classrooms was below standard – with rooms containing uneven illumination and sometimes even broken lamps that went unreplaced.

    China school classroom white ceiling lighting

    Nachitang Primary School

    Due to the large number of students attending the school, the first floor of the girls’ dormitory has been converted into classrooms for lower grades. Here in the classrooms, the light was inadequate and unevenly distributed with large variations in illumination near the windows and the darker parts of the classroom. After sunset, the lighting was completely inadequate.

    China school classroom wooden ceiling lighting

    Nishi Elementary School

    It happened to be an exam day at this school, and the students were all together at the playground. Here we were received with enthusiasm and cheerfulness – the students even took off their hats when greeting us!


    In this school, the lighting environment was better compared to the first one. However, they also had extremely inefficient lamps in the classroom, and light above the desks was limited. Also, due to the unstable voltage output, lamps would often break.

    China classroom rooflighting

    Wujing Primary School


    In the third school, the size of each classroom was relatively standard with identical lighting design. Each classroom was equipped with five energy-saving bulbs. On the ceiling, we noticed traces of previously installed fixture lights.


    Unfortunately, the energy-saving bulbs with a maximum power of 85W still don’t provide enough light for the entire classroom.


    In this primary school, we had the chance to teach students about light and illumination. It has been such a rewarding experience to see the enthusiasm and curiosity of the students. The children actively participated in the illustration and experiment.


    Towards the end when we said goodbye to the students, two children cried. In the beginning, I didn’t quite understand why there was such a strong emotion, but I later realized that the children saw us as teachers, and they treasured the attention we gave them.



    The lighting infrastructure of the schools in Shangri-La is inadequate. The brightness and evenness of the illumination level hadn’t been considered. There was a clear need for improved lighting.


    We will continue to take up more activities and projects to improve the poor lighting condition in underserved schools – and hence enable a better learning environment and a brighter future.

    About the author:

    Lily Young
    Lily Young

    Head of Government & Public Affairs China
    Registered charity in the Netherlands (ANBI), RSIN number 857684553.

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