A YOUNG pilot has given back to pupils in his home town.

Sipho Mangesi (27) from Nqamakwe in the Eastern Cape handed over solar-powered lighting kits to about 300 grade 12s to help them to study during electricity blackouts.

The pupils who received the kits are from Ndabankulu, Jongilizwe, Ngubesizwe and Cunningham high schools.

“I learnt to write my name on sand because we didn’t have stationery or other proper learning facilities. I have first-hand experience of the challenges faced by many kids growing up in villages,” he said.

“The Eastern Cape is one of the poorest performing provinces in terms of the matric pass rate.

“I believe it’s directly linked to the fact that the province is predominantly rural with little access to learning aids such as the internet and, most importantly, electricity.”

Sipho said his donation would enable grade 12s to study even when there was no electricity.

“This cost-effective solution enables the end of candles for lighting purposes. My dream is to empower the entire Eastern Cape. I think this initiative was a step in the right direction.”

The donation comes at a time when pupils are preparing for trial exams.

One of the pupils, Thinam Somgaca from Ndabankulu High School, was delighted with the gift.

“This is a great gift. We used candles when we wanted to study overnight when there was no electricity,” she said.

Another pupil, Akhona Mateke from Jongilizwe High School, said matrics would have no excuse not to study during a power blackout.