The Rialto Project is a registered non-profit company with the purpose of bridging the education divide in South Africa, and in so doing making a difference in the lives of individuals, families and communities.

Founded in 2019 by Capital Land Asset Management and Futuregrowth Asset Management, the Rialto Project provides and manages educational bursaries to leading schools across South Africa for deserving children. The Rialto Project currently supports six high-school students in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, as well as one matriculant who is undergoing an internship at Maersk Shipping in Cape Town.

Rialto Project students, Joshua Mbana (Grade 12), Kumeshnie Nair (Grade 12) and Liyema Hogwana (Grade 10) attend Simon’s Town School Lawhill Maritime Centre in Cape Town. In May, Lawhill launched a Writing Competition where they invited their students to share their best and worst COVID-19 Lockdown experiences, as well as the lessons that they had learnt during lockdown and what they were most grateful for. 23 entries were received, and an external judging panel selected Joshua Mbana’s submission as the winning story.

Learning under Lockdown
By Joshua Mbana

Be careful what you wish for, Joshua.

These words would constantly echo in my mind every time I felt an overwhelming sensation of frustration while at home during lockdown, and when I would struggle to grasp the various, overly-complicated mathematics and physical sciences concepts that were assigned to us, the students, to learn and understand, during this pandemic-induced lockdown.

Fun fact, I was born and raised in the small dusty town of Uitenhage, I have three older brothers, making me the youngest of my surname, and my parents are still happily married. We live in a relatively small house which caused too much commotion, and concentration and comprehension are difficult, increasing the anxiety I am experiencing in my final school year.

As the noise levels in the house were hindering my concentration when it came to school work, I decided I had to take matters in to my own hands and after a heated negotiation, I was able to convince my parents to encourage the rest of the household to, and I quote ,“pipe down”. I thank them for playing that vital role in seeing the need for a little silence in the house.

I then had to figure out how to gain access to online schooling as I do not have WiFi access. This meant, that one would have to make a quick dash to a shop, despite lockdown laws, to purchase the data bundles required for the various online learning sites.

In my opinion, online schooling is a completely different ball game compared to in-class learning. For one, there is no teacher present to fully explain and dissect a topic or to guide a learner in the right direction when he/she begins to go off track.

Not to mention those dreadful pop up adverts that come with the luxury of receiving all the information you need online and while in the comfort of your own home. Those pop up adverts can be compared to disruptive fellow classmates!

Learning under lockdown feels like being trapped inside a glass dome. Your movement is restricted like a vessel in bad weather. You cannot take those two to three minutes to stretch your legs and have a quick chat with a friend in between classes. Instead you are sitting in the same chair, for prolonged periods of time.

One major advantage of learning under lockdown is how it gives one the leisure of going at your own pace, in your own space. It really gives one a sense of independence as you fund your own learning experience. You get to choose the subject you would like to invest your time in, and the actual time of day you would like to start investing your time, all with the assistance of a carefully drawn up timetable.

If learning under lockdown has taught me anything, it has shown me how frustrating it can be to stay in the same place for prolonged periods of time. It has taught me how important it is for one’s psychological and mental health to be moving and pushing forward in life, regardless of the current circumstances, and how frustrating it can be to repeat the same routine every day, without any alterations.

With that said, I urge students who will hopefully read this someday, to see this learning under lockdown experience as a taste of what the real world would be like if they do not work hard with their books today. They will be stuck in the same routine every day without moving forward.

It is important to always persevere and remain strong regardless of the hardships faced, and to stay positive even when it feels like your whole world is under pressure.

Finally, this learning under lockdown has taught me to be careful what I wish for, as I had I wished, a few months prior to this lockdown, to know what it would feel like to be home-schooled.

My only wish now is to take back what I had said.