STEP supports the training of rural women in Solar PV Installation Training

Some of the Scholarship Holders

The Skills and Technical Education Programme (STEP) has awarded scholarships to 16 women from four local villages in Nkhata Bay district to be trained in solar and electrical installation by Zayed Solar Academy.  The women were selected from the Zayed Women’s Self Help Empowerment Group and have already participated in an introductory course on Solar PV Electricity.

At first the women questioned if such a thing was possible.  They assumed that they would not have the skills necessary for such technical work. Jane Botha, one of the scholarship holders stated “My husband will not let me even touch the torch saying it is not something for women, I have never even held it in my hand”.  Being a solar technician was perceived as men’s work. It was not long into the introductory class before the women could be heard discussions whether a panel was mono or poly crystalline, and calling out ‘who has the multimeter?’

The women flourished in the introductory class and were eager to learn more. The possibility was presented for them to join the Informal Technician Training Program at the Solar Academy.  However, the women had families and responsibilities at home so enrolling in a three to six-month full-time course was not possible. Using an innovative approach to skills training, a course was designed to run over the period of 16 months, two days a week for three hours a day. Fatsani Mwale shared that “We are very happy. We can be trained and take care of our families.  I am not a young woman and many years ago I was forced to leave school. Now I have a chance to learn again, I did not imagine it could happen.”

The selected women showed interest in learning solar installation and were identified for the scholarship based on their potential to run a solar panel installation business or other businesses involving sales of solar equipment.

This part-time 16-month training program is uniquely designed to fit the needs and schedule of rural women who have many responsibilities within the home and community.  The training aim to empower women in rural areas by building their skills using a ‘learning by doing’ hands-on approach.  The scholarship also includes provision of tools and materials needed to operate their solar business upon graduation.

The training course has been designed and approved by TEVETA.  The course will not only see them acquiring knowledge in building, maintaining and repairing solar home electrical systems but also learning business and entrepreneurial skills to enable them to start their own business in the renewable energy sector.  By the end of the course, the trainees will receive a level 1 certificate in Level 1 Solar PV Installation and will have the business skills enabling them to be financially independent.

The Zayed Solar Academy has been working to train Malawians with main focus on Solar PV Systems Installation and Maintenance.  STEP is pleased to partner with this innovative academy that is meeting the needs of Malawians.

The overall objective of STEP is to strengthen the vocational education and training sector and its capacity to satisfy the economy’s need for skilled professionals through expansion and improvement of equitable and gender-balanced vocational education and training.  STEP is implemented by UNESCO with funding from the European Union.

For more information on Zayed Solar Academy, please visit their website at http://www.zayedenergyecologycentre.org/contact.  For more information on STEP, please contact the Communications Officer:

Jacqueline Mpeni on 0991806444 or Email: j.mpeni@unesco.org

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