HUNDREDS of students at the Marilog Central Elementary School will now enjoy the benefits of information and communication technology (ICT) as the United States Agency for International Development's (USAid) Alliance for Mindanao Off-grid Renewable Energy (Amore) Program inaugurated its solar-powered computer laboratory on July 16.

On the same day, Amore-USAid also turned over to Marilog school the management of the improved water, sanitation & hygiene (Wash) facility, which will provide the students access to safe water and toilet facilities.

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Timed for the opening of classes in June, the Alliance partners, including Intel Philippines and SunPower Foundation, constructed a solar-powered computer laboratory, which consists of six laptops from Intel Philippines and solar modules provided by SunPower Foundation.

SunPower, the Department of Energy, the government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm), and Winrock International have been USAid's partners in school electrification in Mindanao since 2005.

Under the Amore Program, SunPower has provided modules to energize at least 80 rural schools. The Alliance and Intel launched its new partnership with the inauguration of the Marilog school's ICT project.

The school electrification and ICT project aims to improve the administrative and teaching capability of the teachers through the use of computer-aided technology. The facility is also expected to enhance the students' learning experience by providing access to online information.

To further improve the school's facilities, Amore facilitated the construction of a rainwater harvesting system and a washing trough. Pipelines were laid out to bring water to six classroom latrines, which had never been used due to the lack of water.

The school electrification and Wash projects are demonstrations of high-value social application of renewable energy technology.

Since 2002, thousands of households and students in Mindanao have benefited from the Amore's school electrification and safe water projects. The Alliance has provided electricity to over 13,000 households in more than 400 off-grid villages in Mindanao using renewable energy technologies such as solar and micro-hydro systems.