Action Research

Three Global Social Benefit Fellows spent 9 months in 2013 investigating the impact of Lifeline Energy’s Lifeplayer and how it could best support interactive radio instruction (IRI) to meet the educational needs of poor, underserved children in rural Zambia.

Lifeline Energy provides technology solutions for off-grid learning. It designs, manufactures, and distributes solar-powered and wind-up radios and media players for education. 

The fellows were hosted by the Jesuit Chikuni mission, four hours south of Lusaka, and worked within their network of rural schools. This action research project research evaluated the use of Lifeline Energy's educational technologies, and evaluated and further developed Chikuni mission’s agroforestry/energy poverty education program.




Read Their Findings:


IRI School Assessment & Recommendations

by Lynsey Cumberford-Palmer and Laura Ruggles

The Fellows research accomplished three objectives in order to improve the Chikuni Parish Taonga (CPT) program. 

The first objective was to understand the barriers to education. The Fellows conducted surveys to discover what teachers and community members thought were the biggest obstacles to keep children from going to school. Understanding the root causes of school absenteeism is the first step to fixing it.

The second goal was to outline and understand the training and monitoring system of both the schools and the mentors. 

The third goal was to find the best ways to support the mentors, schools, and communities to create a positive and productive learning environment.



Content Guide

by Jack Bird


This content guide was produced for the purpose of compiling and organizing the information and techniques from Taonga Agro Forestry Programme developed by Bornface Hangala at Chikuni Parish.

The guide is meant to aid with the future development of a full agro-forestry curriculum by providing a comprehensive list of important topics and methods that can be formed into lessons. 

It can also serve as useful resource for mentors and students who may need additional information about the concepts presented by the future curriculum.




Program Assessment

by Jack Bird


The research of the agro-forestry program was done for the purpose of compiling and organizing the different components of the program itself into a comprehensive guide. 

The guide is intended to be used as a foundation for future development of a full-fledged agro-forestry curriculum. 

This assessment takes the research one step further by analyzing the current state of affairs for the agro-forestry program. 

While the guide presented a full range of concepts, this assessment will analyze where the strengths and weakness lay within the content and the structure of CPT itself. 


Meet The Students:

Read their reflections on entrepreneurship to meet social needs in Africa





Jack Bird
Environmental Science and
Political Science '14



Lynsey Cumberford
Anthropology '14



Laura Ruggles
Anthropology and
Spanish Studies '14







To accomplish the research goals, the Fellows created a survey to help garner quantitative and qualitative data from the local people. These surveys asked questions about the school system and students who attend these IRI schools. The Fellows conducted interviews of some of the mentors at the 14 schools they were able to visit and of some of the mentors from the remaining three schools at a mentor meeting. In total, the Fellows interviewed 41 mentors, as well as 60 community members.



The Hosting Social Enterprise:



 Lifeline Energy is a mission driven non-profit social enterprise that provides technology solutions for off-grid learning. Education is the foundation of a nation’s future and fundamental to every individual’s self-esteem. Achieving universal access to primary education is a Millennium Development Goal, however, millions of children in developing countries do not attend school regularly or at all. The number of out-of-school girls is higher than for boys. 

Lifeline Energy is committed to making educational opportunities broader and more accessible for all. Despite the inroads made by computers, tablets and smart phones, radio remains the most important communication medium in Africa and in other parts of the developing world. It’s not only effective, radio makes learning cost-effective, too. Lifeline Energy has partnered with the Zambian Ministry of Education to sustain the educational system for rural children in Zambia.







The Hosting Organization: 


Chikuni Jesuit Mission 

The three fellows spent 6 weeks hosted by the Jesuits and their mission at Chikuni, where the Jesuits have served since 1905. The Jesuits and their co-workers have developed an extensive array of services for the people of the parish, including a community radio station to support education and catechesis, a community hospital, a program to support people living and dying with AIDS, a retreat house, and a network of schools that extends to the more remote locations of the region.