In the community of Suruacá, located on the western shore of the Tapajós River in the Brazilian Amazon, availability of information and communication technology ("ICT") has helped in overcoming isolation and improved the quality of education available to its youth. Availability of ICT has allowed teachers to supplement their teaching materials to make their classes more interesting, and has nurtured students’ curiosity and problem-solving skills by providing them access to a wealth of information far beyond what is available in the few textbooks they have. Because of this impact, demand for use of laptops by students and school staff far exceeds the capacity that the current availability of computers can meet.
Suruacá, like many isolated communities in the Brazilian Amazon, is not connected to the electrical grid, and there's little chance of this occurring anytime soon. To charge its existing laptops, the school had a small photovoltaic system. Now, the school has secured five more laptops to meet demand, and improved on the existing photovoltaic system to run the new machines.
The Suruacá School Electrification Expansion Project has expanded the capacity of the existing photovoltaic system in the community's only school. It can now power twice the number of laptops available to students and teachers. They have been provided with increased access to information and support for research and curriculum development. The expanded system also powers a freezer necessary to store food for a school lunch program, giving students access to nutritious lunches and two daily snacks and improving child nutrition in the area.
Through CEN’s strategy of support through mentorship in creative problem-solving, CEN has fostered greater self-reliance and strengthened the community’s capacity to solve this and future problems on its own.