Eskom asked to consider the plight of learners during exams when rolling out load shedding
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Cape Town - Eskom has been asked to consider the plight of learners and students during exams when it institutes load shedding.
SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said load shedding had become the single biggest distraction to learners and students whose preparations for the examinations had become a nightmare.
Mugwena called on the responsible authorities including Eskom, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and all other relevant authorities to urgently find a reasonable mechanism to reduce the adverse impact of load shedding on the current examinations.
Congress of South African Students (Cosas) acting provincial secretary Mphumzi Giwu said matrics had been negatively affected by the ongoing load shedding.
Giwu said they had been receiving complaints about how difficult it was for learners to study due to the two hours or more of power cuts, and how it disrupted examinations, bearing in mind that there were learners with special needs, some of whom needed extra lighting in order to read and write.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said: “As if our matrics have not had enough to deal with over the past two years, they now also have to deal with persistent, debilitating load shedding."
Schäfer said that while it should not affect the actual writing of the exams, as the venues were required to have sufficient natural light, it undoubtedly affected learners’ study time.
The concerns prompted a senior delegation from DBE and the Public Enterprises department to hold urgent talks with Eskom.
Parliament's portfolio committee on basic education chairperson, Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, said it was not only the exams that were affected.
The DBE briefed the committee on exam readiness this week, reminding it of the challenges faced by the Class of 2021.
Mbinqo-Gigaba said the department informed the committee that the director-general had already requested an urgent meeting with Eskom's chief executive, Andre de Ruyter, which was expected to be held in the next few days.
"The committee was assured that it would be appraised of the outcome of the meeting in order for South Africans and learners to have some form of certainty," she said.
During Thursday's media briefing, De Ruyter said they were “very aware” of the impact load shedding had on matrics.
“Again, it’s highly regrettable that this bout of load shedding coincides with matric exams, it is something we wish to apologise for. We will engage with the DBE to explain the situation, and we will do everything in our power to bring the capacity back,” he said.