How dumsor dumsor (power outages) is affecting students
March 21, 2015
Hi everyone, its Patrick again! So one of the main things I have been doing, since my arrival in Ghana is going around to all of our schools and investigate daily hurdles that students must overcome to continue their studies. In the coming weeks, I will be meeting with teachers, education officials, and the rest of the Expo staff to find solutions to these issues and make it easier for Ghanaian students to continue with school. So I'm here to shed some light (no pun intended) on one of the main issues that students have told me about, power outages.
More than half of the students I have talked to cite the frequent power outages, or “dumsor dumsor” (literally means "on-off, on-off" in Twi), as the number one issue that impedes their education. The main problem within the issue is that students are not able to study far past nightfall, especially in the zones that have the most frequent power outages.
The options that students have at their disposal to get around the power outages are sparse. Since battery powered lamps are usually too expensive for most Ghanaian students, the most common fixes are either studying by candlelight or torchlight. Studying by candlelight is often a poor option because candles are obviously very dim and most of the candles available in Ghana will only last about an hour. More often, students will study by torchlight during dumsor dumsor. Torchlights are brighter and cost effective, but they are also dangerous. Torchlights have been linked to countless fires over the years and the fumes are harmful to the eyes. Multiple students have explained how the fumes from the torchlight begin to burn their eyes after only an hour of studying.
Dumsor dumsor also has an effect on classroom learning. In the schools that are equipped with overhead projectors (usually used in particularly large classes), the teacher must stop and backtrack so that everything can be copied to the blackboard. The projectors are used in larger classes because much of the class cannot read the blackboard very well. So when the lights are out, not only is class disrupted, teachers are denied an
invaluable tool in teaching large classes.
ICT classes, or computer training classes, are also affected in schools that do not have generators. When there is no power, there is no Internet access and schools that use desktop computers (as opposed to battery-powered laptops) can't even demonstrate offline computer skills. In such cases, only students with charged smart phones can complete assignments that require Internet access. During dumsor domsor, these ICT facilities are, like the overhead projectors, useless.