By StaffsLive Reporter: A 73-year-old student who is working on a project to bring light to children in Malawi has been named the region’s top adult learner.
Derek Wardle, from Stoke-on-Trent enrolled on a part time MSc Engineering at Staffordshire University in 2009 after deciding to return to education after teaching science at Newcastle-under-Lyme College.
Although he admits his studies have been tough going, his efforts have paid off after he was named West Midlands Adult Learner of the Year.
“Age is no barrier when it comes to studying,” he said. “There are a great number of people who would like to do more with their lives once they have retired and I think if the desire is there, they shouldn’t hesitate.”
Derek’s passion for learning has been fuelled by a partnership he has entered into with the Dean of Engineering at the University of Malawi.
He is now using his knowledge of renewable energy and biomass to design a lantern which can run on ethanol and Jatropha oil, both locally produced in the African country.
“Malawi is dependent on imported kerosene which is far too expensive and so many families are unable to afford it,” Derek explained.
“Having visited the country I have seen how desperate the children are to learn, but when the natural light goes they have to stop because they can’t see the work in front of them.
“By developing this lantern we hope to enable them to study whenever they want and it also could lead to Malawi producing its own fuel.”
Click below to see an interview with Derek: