A student having to study and do homework by candlelight. Picture: Lerato Bruno Nonkonyane
By Lerato Bruno Nonkonyane
South Africans have had to adapt to load-shedding, but in townships like Tembisa load-shedding is only the beginning. These communities also have to deal with extended power cuts that sometimes last for up to eight hours or more. Learners doing their, grade 11 and 12, critical years in the education system, have had to adapt and find ways of studying in the dark.
“Most of the time I use my phone as a source to make light in the house,” said Nomvula Ferreira, a grade 11 learner who stays in Tembisa but attends school in a nearby suburb.
She said going to school without having studied or done the homework was not acceptable to teachers, even if one had no power. “No, that is seen as being lazy and an excuse, doing your work is your responsibility and not theirs.”
Offense Matsie, a grade 12 learner at Tembisa High School, agreed with Ferreira. She said at her teachers do not accept lack of electricity as a reason for not studying or doing homework.
“The teachers don’t understand when our homeworks are not done. They say that they grew up using candles, and they got it done” said Matsie.
However, she said she finds it difficult to study when there is no electricity. She relies on the morning and afternoon classes provided by her school to catch up on studying and homework.
Ntokozo Nkosi, a grade 11 also at Tembisa high, said he does not like the morning and afternoon classes. He uses the solar light given to learners at the school, but complained that they do not provide enough light. This could lead to damaging one’s eyesight.
Sihle Phakathi, a grade 12 learner from Amour Foundation Learning Institute, knows only too well how trying to study without adequate light can impact one’s eyesight.
“I wear spectacles and can’t be too close to a candle, that hurts my eyes and the teachers don’t understand,” said Phakathi. He said he does not touch his books when there is no electricity.
Last year while the department of basic education was briefing parliament on its readiness for the 2021 National Senior Certificate exams, members of parliament (MPs) raised concerns about the impact of load-shedding on how well the learners prepare.
Matric students will be writing their exams in a few months’ time, and it seems the load-shedding and power cuts will be part of that journey.