FOR the first time in its 47 years of existence, a small farm school in Kareedouw now has electricity, providing its pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds with a whole new world of learning possibilities.
For the past month, the pupils at Boplaas Primary School have enjoyed the donation of a solar-powered flat-screen television – called a Sun TV – a DStv installation, a DVD player and lights in the school's two classrooms.
There is also enough solar power for two computers, changing the way the pupils will learn.
Maryke du Plessis, a teacher at the school, said the donation of the equipment, from Port Elizabeth companies Solar World and Telecom Techniques, has not only improved teaching conditions at the school, but also helped the pupils build self-esteem.
"Many of these children do not have electricity at home. They are all the children of farm workers who live in this area, so they are very poor. They have never seen a television and have never seen or worked a computer," she said.
Andre Friend of Telecom Technologies said the idea for Sun TVs originated with Solar World and were then designed and developed by Telecom Technologies in Port Elizabeth. Du Plessis said being able to use music, various TV channels and a computer to teach had introduced the pupils to a new world of possibilities. They now believed they were capable of doing anything, Du Plessis said.
"It has really helped them with their self-confidence. They are excited about coming to school and they are excited about learning new things. One of them even said that with the new lights in the classroom they are able to stay at school until late at night," she said.
Du Plessis said the school, situated deep in the hills of Kareedouw, only had three classrooms, one for Grade R and then a foundation phase class for grades 1, 2, and 3 and an intermediate phase class for grades 4, 5 and 6.
She said there were 42 pupils at the school. There were only two staff members – herself and the school's principal. She said a parent looked after the Grade R class while they waited for the Education Department to provide another teacher.
She added that the electricity and the equipment had not only uplifted the school, but the entire community.
"We invited the parents to the school for a parents meeting and we surprised them by switching on the lights. They could not believe it, because many of them had attended the same school. They never dreamt that this could be possible."