The learners of Pheasant Folly Primary School will have an illuminating start to the school year, thanks to the donation and installation of 30 solar-powered lights by Deltec Power through NGO, Joint Aid Management South Africa (JAM SA).
For many children, the first day back at school is an exciting one. It’s a day to catch up on the holiday news with friends and to show off their new stationery in a new school bag. Teachers are well rested after the holidays and are fully equipped to teach their class of eager – albeit sometimes naughty – young children. It is a day filled with promise.
For the teachers and learners at Pheasant Folly Primary School in Tsietsi Informal Settlement near Thokoza Township in Gauteng, the first day back is very different. There are only a handful of chairs and desks in the classrooms so the children (usually between 45-55 in a class) have to sit on the floor or try and balance on a broken chair. There is no electricity, limited water, holes in the floors and windows are broken. The playground has knee length grass and only one out of the five ablution blocks is operational with flushing toilets for the nearly 800 enrolled learners.
“Truly speaking, these children are suffering,” says Elijah Mthethwa, chairperson of the governing body. “The children are under this pressure, how do they learn? Many of them are gifted, what do we do with them?” asks Grade 4 and 7 teacher, Emily Ngwenya. “Without furniture, there is no effective teaching and learning,” she adds.
Organisational development manager at Deltec Power. Mduduzi kaRadebe, first heard of the plight of the farm school in a conversation with one of the cleaners at the office. “I was previously a teacher so education is close to my heart. We wanted to adopt a school and do as much as we could over a period of time,” he says.
“When I came here the first time to do a needs assessment, I noticed that it gets quite dark in the classrooms as there is no electricity here. Hopefully we have helped with that and now lessons can carry on even when it is overcast or raining,” he explains. The installation of 30 Betta Lights is just the beginning.
Branden Austen, manager of renewable energy at Deltec Power explains that it is a 6-Volt The solar powered LED lighting system, which means that each light will give off the same amount of light as a 60 Watt bulb. A solar system had been installed previously in the school but all of the solar panels on the roofs had been stolen. Deltec has laid the solar panels flat so they can’t be seen by anyone looking into the school grounds. An added bonus is that the Betta Lights come with a cell phone charger for the teachers to use.
Pheasant Folly Primary School has many problems but it is hoped that under the guidance of new principal Rita Busiswe Majola and with the support of Deltec Power, the future of these children will be made brighter.
Deltec Power has also donated a number of these solar lights JAM SA, to use in its ECD Centre Makeover programme.