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Solar-powered schoolbag life-changer for South African pupils


Solar-powered schoolbag life-changer for South African pupils

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Nine-year-old Kamogelo is one of many school children living in impoverished communities in South Africa affected by power cuts.

But the creators of the innovative solar powered schoolbag he is carrying are hoping it will help change things.

Made from recycled plastic, it features a solar panel in the flap – which charges as the children walk to and from school – as well as strips of reflective material, to make the wearer more visible in the dark.

Once the pupil gets home, he removes the solar panel and screws it onto a solar jar that can last up to 12 hours, allow him to do his homework even during power cuts.

“It helps me a lot when there is no electricity because I take the lamp and use that for lighting in order to read and do my homework,” he explains.

The Repurpose Schoolbags as they are called are the brainchild of a pair of young entrepreneurs from Rustenburg on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

At the factory where they are made, the plastic sheets are first cleaned and processed to make them malleable enough to create the bags. The design and look is also important, and the bags come in a variety of bright colours for every taste.

“They’re happy to have a school bag. I remember with the first handover one of the kids cried and I was like ‘This is a bit emotional.’ The parents are coming and saying ‘My child is able to do work’ and teachers are coming in saying ‘Homework is now being done.’ So I think we are affecting all spheres of a child’s life if I can put it that way,” says co-founder Rea Ngwane.

The pair say the company is growing to meet demand and they are planning to launch a luxury brand to help subsidise the schoolbags. They also want to expand to other countries in Africa where access to electricity in poorer communities remains a problem.

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