37 years old and in Grade 1

By Drum Digital
09 February 2011

ON THE first day of the new school year he woke up early, excited and nervous at the prospect of a world of knowledge opening up to him. His books were packed, his pencils had been sharpened and his school clothes were laid out next to his bed.

In short, he was just like thousands of other eager Grade 1 pupils across the country on the first day of term – but there’s one major difference that separates Tsepiso Ngambi from the rest of the pack. He is 37 years old and this was the first time he was setting foot in a classroom.Tsepiso is deaf, and is the product of an education system that is sorely lacking when it comes to people with his disability in South Africa (see box). If it wasn’t for his closest friend and constant companion, Thami Bathembu (38), he might never have experienced the thrill of learning.

Thami has a liquor business in Lower Crossroads, near Cape Town, where both men live, and he paid R300 to register his friend for an adult course at the Noluthando School for the Deaf in Khayelitsha.

Read the article in the Drum of 17 February 2011 – and share your views below.

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