Lhakpa Quendren

In the scorching temperatures in Panbang, Zhemgang, students grapple with a common challenge: power fluctuations, especially when the use of AC and fans becomes essential for a conducive learning environment.

To address this persistent issue, Sonamthang Central School in Panbang has initiated an innovative solution—the Solar Bamboo Fan project.

The school has crafted 10 portable solar bamboo fans for a trial run in the market. These fans, powered by a battery, charger, motor, and wire, offer a convenient solution and can be easily placed on a table. The fan control is efficiently managed through a switch connected to the battery.

Solar bamboo fans

Phub Lham, a teacher and Upshift program focal at the school, explains that the project integrates both solar and electrical charging options. “The solar panel ensures power even in low-light conditions and power blackouts,” she says.

Given the abundance of bamboo in Panbang, the project ingeniously incorporates bamboo as a key material, blending the community’s traditional use of bamboo with modern technology. Phub Lham expresses pride in continuing the tradition of utilising bamboo in the form of eco-friendly products.

The innovative solution is designed with meticulous care to ensure it doesn’t harm the environment. Phub Lham emphasises, “By using scientific laws and theories, we have connected all the components of our project with utmost safety.”

Excited about showcasing the fusion of cultural heritage with modern technology, Phub Lham believes that the project will not only bring economic benefits to the community but also spotlight the beauty of Bhutanese culture and traditions globally.

As part of the skills development and innovation program, the solar bamboo fan project aligns with His Majesty’s vision of making the youth nationally rooted and globally competent.

Phub Lham emphasises its role in instilling a sense of responsibility and belongingness in students, fostering team spirit, and encouraging volunteerism to address social problems.

The idea behind the solar bamboo fan project originated from a group of six students participating in the Upshift program of the education ministry.

Although the project was shortlisted for the National Innovation Challenge 2023 without winning, Leki Tobgay, a 12th-grade student involved, recognises the project’s impact. “It enables all learners to explore new experiences and, in the end, take on the responsibility of contributing to our country’s goals.”

The project aims to inspire and encourage youth to enhance innovation in Bhutan, boasting attractive features, cleanliness, and affordability, fostering innovative development and sustainable resource use.

Despite not winning the national innovation challenge, positive comments and feedback from the audience motivated the school to persist in their innovative endeavors.

The principal, Rinzin Wangdi, highlights that despite challenges like a lack of necessary training and raw materials, support from organizers and stakeholders has propelled the project forward.

In 2022, the education ministry, in collaboration with UNICEF Bhutan, Youth Development Fund, and Loden Foundation, introduced the Upshift programme in 64 schools and 10 youth centers.

This initiative aims to equip young people with 21st-century skills, transferable skills, and advanced thinking abilities, contributing to the holistic development of Bhutanese youth.