Lifeline Energy is a non-profit social enterprise in South Africa that provides access to education for rural populations by distributing solar powered and wind- up media players that are used as a substitute for the traditional classroom setting. To date, Lifeline Energy has distributed over 550,000 radios and media players, which have connected millions of listeners to educational radio programming. The combination of these innovative products with the work of Lifeline Energy’s various partners help to address energy poverty as well as the education deficit in several African nations. As a mission driven non-profit organization, Lifeline Energy relies on donations and grant money to remain viable. Therefore, it is crucial that the enterprise can provide a comprehensive impact analysis so that it can garner more support. Similarly, Lifeline must also convince its various partners such as the Zambian Ministry of Education and Taonga Market, who produce and broadcast the actual programming, that what they are doing is having an impact.
Our research aims to provide Lifeline Energy with: (1) information regarding the effectiveness of radio-based learning both academically and for the acquisition of life skills, (2) a description of a successful radio-based educational program based out of Chikuni that can be used as a model by the Ministry of Education for the design of a national version, (3) content for the creation of an agroforestry curriculum based on the knowledge from a local expert, and (4) an analysis of the intersection between energy poverty, education, and sustainable development. Our research will take place over a period of 8 weeks and will involve a variety of techniques such as interviews, observations, and surveys that will be formatted to help us create these deliverables. This research should prove to be helpful for Lifeline Energy, Taonga Market, the Ministry of Education, ourselves, and future fellows continuing our research in years to come.