This school-in-a-bag helps educate the most remote areas

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Victoria Masterson, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • The Solar Media Bag has been trialled in Uganda, Ethiopia and Mozambique.
  • School teachers in rural areas can use it to turn any space into a classroom.
  • The bag can charge laptops and phones and carries projectors and speakers.
  • Access to education is also an issue for developed countries like Australia, where students can live across vast remote areas.

No electricity means no access to an education that meets modern standards.

That’s the reality for millions of school children in remote communities and developing areas of the world. Without power, there’s no access to the internet which is now central to a good education. These children miss out on opportunities to learn from videos, digital tools and data found online.

As well as missing out on internet learning in school, more than 1.3 million children aged 3 – 17 have no internet connection at home either, according to UNICEF.

Only 6% of children in low-income countries have internet access at home.
Only 6% of children in low-income countries have internet access at home. Image: UNICEF

Globally, 33% of children have access to the internet at home to support their studies. But in low-income developing nations, that figure falls to just 6%. School-aged children in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are the most affected, with around 9 in 10 children having no internet access.

Digital education for all

This could all change with the launch of a new solar-powered backpack that has been trialled in Uganda, Ethiopia and Mozambique.

The Solar Media Bag (SMB) allows rural teachers or trainers to “turn any room or place into a classroom,” says Mario Aguilera, chief executive of Finland-based startup Tespack.

“With this tool, children even in rural regions can be educated with the latest information and not depend on the grid to get an up-to-date education.” https://www.youtube.com/embed/XYiruiKsaxU?enablejsapi=1&wmode=transparent

Tespack has developed the backpack in collaboration with Plan International, a humanitarian organization founded in Spain in 1937 that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.

In a video on the launch of the Solar Media Bag, Martin Ogwang, project manager for Plan International Uganda, says: “How to show a video in a rural area where there is no electricity, no internet connectivity and no devices – nothing like that. That was the problem.”

What is the World Economic Forum doing to improve digital intelligence in children?

The latest figures show that 56% of 8-12-year-olds across 29 countries are involved in at least one of the world’s major cyber-risks: cyberbullying, video-game addiction, online sexual behaviour or meeting with strangers encountered on the web.

Using the Forum’s platform to accelerate its work globally, #DQEveryChild, an initiative to increase the digital intelligence quotient (DQ) of children aged 8-12, has reduced cyber-risk exposure by 15%.

In March 2019, the DQ Global Standards Report 2019 was launched – the first attempt to define a global standard for digital literacy, skills and readiness across the education and technology sectors.

Our System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Media, Information and Entertainment has brought together key stakeholders to ensure better digital intelligence for children worldwide. Find our more about DQ Citizenship in our Impact Story.

Powered by the sun

The bag is fitted with solar panels that provide up to 300W of power to charge mobile devices such as laptops and phones. Projectors and speakers are included, so training and workshops can be delivered in any off-grid regions.

The bag also uses ‘internet of things’ technology – the world of connected devices – and satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to track all devices, monitor energy generation data and help workers stay safe with anti-kidnapping features. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3R3ZWV0X2VtYmVkX2NsaWNrYWJpbGl0eV8xMjEwMiI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJjb250cm9sIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1386963711836004354&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.weforum.org%2Fagenda%2F2021%2F07%2Ftespack-solar-bag-access-school%2F&sessionId=48720726b9d5d06dcaa6995f54b25381c7a71cc8&theme=light&widgetsVersion=82e1070%3A1619632193066&width=550px

Millions excluded from education

About 260 million children and youth were out of school in 2018, according to United Nations figures. And more than half of all children and adolescents worldwide are not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics.

260 million children were not in education in 2018.
260 million children were not in education in 2018. Image: United Nations

That was before COVID-19, which has had a devastating impact on education.

More than 168 million schoolchildren globally missed out on learning in class as the pandemic shut schools for almost a year, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Access to education isn’t just a problem in developing countries.

In rural Australia, for example, government-funded ‘schools of the air’ deliver education remotely to students living thousands of miles apart in settings including cattle stations, mining camps and tourist destinations. Classes were traditionally delivered by radio. This has now been replaced by telephone and internet technology.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Protecting European consumers: Safety Gate efficiently helps take dangerous COVID-19 products off the market

EU trade agreements deliver on growth and jobs, support sustainable development

European Youth Event 2016 – bridge between youth and policy makers

Civilians ‘must never be a target,’ says UN in Afghanistan, amid troubling number of casualties during Ramadan

Digital business is Europe’s best hope to get back to growth

Australia urged to evacuate offshore detainees amid widespread, acute mental distress

Strict alcohol laws which cut intake more than 40 per cent in Russia, linked to historically high life expectancy

Unemployment and exclusion brings EU cities to boiling point

Cyber-Risk Assessments: the vaccine for companies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Why the global trade of chemicals is key to COVID-19 recovery

These are the world’s best universities by subject

ISIS fighters fleeing Mosul for Syria can topple Assad. Why did the US now decide to uproot them from Iraq?

If we want to solve climate change, water governance is our blueprint

EU revengefully shows no mercy to Cameron by demanding a fast and sloppy Brexit now

Turkey presents a new strategy for EU accession but foreign policy could be the lucky card

The EU Parliament sidesteps the real issues about banks, while the US target the Eurozone lenders

These scientists are using sound waves to filter plastic fibres from washing machine wastewater

State aid: Commission approves € 1.6 billion Polish scheme to compensate companies for damages suffered due to coronavirus outbreak and provide liquidity support

How climate change can be addressed through executive compensation

North Korea missile tests ‘deeply troubling’: senior UN official

A Young student assesses the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

How we planted more than 5,000 trees during the COVID-19 pandemic

Draghi cuts the Gordian knot of the Banking Union

‘Democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people’ must be met urges Guterres, following military removal of al-Bashir from power

5G security: Member States report on progress on implementing the EU toolbox and strengthening safety measures

These are the ‘positive’ tipping points that could slow global warming

EU Budget: A Reform Support Programme and an Investment Stabilisation Function to strengthen Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union

African cooperation on peace ‘increasingly strong’, Security Council told

Why the Greeks forgave Tsipras’ pirouettes around austerity and voted again for SYRIZA

Who can compel Wallonia to unlock CETA, the EU-Canada free trade pack?

EU adopts €55 million support package for Syrian refugees and local communities in Jordan and Lebanon to mitigate coronavirus pandemic

Eurobarometer survey: Majority of EU citizens positive about international trade

Social, cultural diversity ‘an enormous richness, not a threat’ Guterres declares calling on investment for a harmonious future

Plastic waste from Western countries is poisoning Indonesia

EU at UNGA 76: working together to address global challenges

Atomic agency cites concerns over Iran testing sites, offers COVID-19 assistance

EU-China Leaders’ meeting: Delivering results by standing firm on EU interests and values

ILO’s Bureau for Employers´Activities to publish new study on women in business and management

Yemen: ‘A great first step’ UN declares as aid team accesses grain silo which can feed millions

Kids who live in the countryside have better motor skills, a study in Finland has found

Taxation: Commission refers Poland to Court for failing to remove certain tax exemptions on the use of energy products by highly polluting businesses

This project is using AI and drones to track and protect great white sharks

The global issue of migration in 2017

High anxiety calls for innovation in digital mental health

An alternative to the future of antimicrobial therapy

IMF: How To Deal With Failed Banks

World’s most powerful tidal turbine pumps out greener electricity in Scotland

Coronavirus fears may have driven over 300,000 UK smokers to quit

On the Global Day of Parents, UNICEF is urging support for parents to give children ‘the best start in life’

The dangers of data: why the numbers never tell the full story

COVID-19 shows why we must build trust in digital financial services

Can a Bavarian Oktoberfest beer indulger bring down the Berlin government?

Combatting antisemitism requires ‘solidarity in the face of hatred’, says UN chief

EU’s new sanctions on Russia into force “in the next few days”: strength, weakness or strategy?

EU to set up new European Partnerships and invest nearly €10 billion for the green and digital transition

Courage of terrorism survivors underlines ‘urgency’ of UN Investigative Team’s work in Iraq

Women-Friendly Spaces for Rohingya refugees: A place for protection and care

Plans to keep EU budget funding in 2020 in the event of a no-deal Brexit

Most US students aren’t learning about climate change. Parents and teachers think they should

GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: