For many high school teachers, the explosion of the iPod represented another way for their students to become distracted in the classroom.  It turns out that instead of using those MP3 players to blast music, they are being used to promote literacy and education all across Africa.

Meet the Lifeplayer MP3.  A solar-powered radio, recorder and MP3 player, the Lifeplayer is manufactured by Lifeline Technologies to give rural African communities greater access to education.  The Lifeplayer comes with reading and writing lesson plans already pre-loaded.  Since it is solar-powered, rural communities without access to electricity can now enjoy this technological wonder without worrying about access to electrical outlets for recharging.

The company currently runs initiatives in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Zambia.  In Ethiopia, Lifeline has partnered with the British Council to promote English language education to over 50,000 school children.  Kristine Pearson, the CEO of Lifeline, traveled to South Sudan to deliver 15,000 Lifeplayers to educators.

Pearson instructed trainers and teachers on how to use the technologically-advanced device in the hopes of reversing the discouraging education trends in the country.

“Nearly three-quarters of the population can neither read nor write,” states Pearson.  “According to the Overseas Development Index (ODI), less than 2% of the population have completed a primary education and even less completed secondary school.”

In addition to the Lifeplayer MP3, the company also produces two other solar-powered marvels: the Prime Radio, an analogue radio with an LCD display, and the Solarstor, a portable charging station for cell phones.

The Prime Radio has been especially beneficial in Rwanda, where the company spearheads an initiative called Project Muraho.  Partnering with organizations such as UNICEF, the initiative has provided 13,000 radios and power sources to families ravaged by the effects of the Rwandan genocide and the continued devastation of HIV/AIDS.

Although access to education has improved worldwide in the past decade, there are still great disparities in rural areas and communities without power and electricity.  The Lifeplayer MP3 is a wonderful invention to help push education in these struggling communities.

Taylor Diamond 

Sources: World Economic Forum, Lifeline Energy: Technology, Lifeline Energy: Projects
Photo: Texarkana Gazette