A Thai monk is making a big difference in his community with the power of renewable energy. Prakruwimolpanyakhun (Monk-Teacher Wimolpanyakhun), also known as the “Solar Monk,” sold his home to fund the construction of the Sisaengtham School, a solar-powered school that teaches students how to become self-sufficient, from soldering photovoltaic systems together to growing organic vegetable gardens. Located in the forests of Thailand’s northeastern Ubon Ratchathani province, the Solar School is powered entirely by solar energy and costs only a dollar per month for the electricity bill—the minimal fee required to keep the meter hooked up to the national grid.
Founded in 2010, the Sisaengtham School offers a high school-level curriculum that combines hands-on self-sufficiency learning, spiritualism, community outreach, and academic subjects that include reading and writing. According to ProgressTH, the school’s focus on sustainable technologies was inspired by Thailand’s national policy that promotes local and national self-sufficiency and sustainability. Students are taught how to grow organic produce, which is used in the school’s canteen and is also sold to help raise extra income for the school.
Students also have the opportunity to directly observe and interact with the school’s photovoltaic systems and apply their knowledge and skills to solar projects for the community. One such community project involved the construction of mobile solar charging systems, which hook up to agricultural water pumps and reduce farmers’ dependence on gas-powered tractors. The school also develops solar kits to help raise revenue and ensure financial self-sufficiency. The Solar School also offers training courses to visitors who want to learn how to improve self-sufficiency in their community.
Images via Sisaengtham School