Location: North Eastern Fijian Islands
Google maps search: Rabi Island
Rabi Island is inhabited by Banaban people. In the early 1900s their original home, Ocean Island, was taken over by the British to mine phosphate. After the second World War, due to the degradation of their island, they were relocated thousands of kilometres away to Rabi in the northern Fijian group. While they endured many hardships, a population of four thousand people live on Rabi today. Subsistence farming and fishing are the main occupations. Rabi has a primary school in each of the four villages and a central high school at Tabiang.
Parents place great importance on the education. Some families, from the more distant village, leave their homes for the school term and build makeshift housing on land near the school. Then fish and do other jobs so their children can attend high school.
Rabi High School has two-hundred and eighty students and twenty-three teachers. Classes are from years seven to eleven. There are five teachers’ residences within the school grounds.
Prior to the solar system a diesel generator supplied power for office equipment, computer and woodwork classes. In the evenings the generator ran from six to ten to supply power to the teachers’ residences. Four nights each week the lights in the school are powered so the children can do night study because many homes don’t have sufficient lighting. There were periods when the school had no power simply because the price of fuel was too high and they didn’t have the funds available (makes the computer sciences classes a challenge!).
Rabi High School now enjoys constant daytime power for computers, office equipment and the PA system. The larger equipment in the woodwork room requires the generator to be started for short periods. Teachers’ residences still have power access from six to ten pm, with the generator only used for limited periods to supplement their needs.
An added benefit is that the inverter now protects the school computers and other equipment from damage. The generator was delivering ‘spiky’ power that damaged the computers.
Rabi High School is saving over $7000 per year that is now spent on books, software, they built fume cupboards in the science room, are buying documentary DVDs and other resources. That is a big deal when the average family income is less than $100 per month. The system will also save as much as 150 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
We have engaged in five other smaller projects in the Soloman Islands and also some small solar lighting projects. While these projects are delivering good outcomes they are not templates for future projects. Future projects will be of varying size, but similar configurations to the above examples.