Cape Town – Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer has pleaded with Eskom not to leave matric pupils in the dark as they begin their National Senior Certificate exams.
Schäfer said more than 9 000 pupils would complete their computer applications technology practical exam today, while 854 pupils have their information technology practical exam tomorrow.
She said last year, Eskom blackouts wreaked havoc across the country on those practical exams.
“Sadly, load-shedding remains an ever-present threat.”
However, Schäfer said the Department of Basic Education had engaged with Eskom regarding load shedding during the exam period.
“I urge Eskom to put contingency measures in place to avoid a repeat of last year’s disruption. Our matrics have been through enough this year - it is not fair to cause them more anxiety.”
She said their exams team would be monitoring the situation closely, and there was a standard protocol to be followed at schools if a power outage occurred during practical exams.
National basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the department engaged with Eskom every year at this time. He said it was in the hands of South Africans to manage the use of power.
“Should demand exceed supply then we will run into problems.”
Eskom confirmed there was an engagement between them and the department. It said they have been in discussions to assess the risk to the examinations and how Eskom can assist the department with preparedness.
IThe power utility said from a system point of view they have ensured that there was sufficient diesel stock available to run the Eskom and IPP OCGTs if necessary.
"Pumped storage dam levels have also been kept topped up to ensure these resources are available to support the system during this time," Eskom said.
They said while they always make every effort to avert load shedding, protecting the electricity system remained their first priority.
"Should load shedding be expected, Eskom will make every effort to provide the department with timeous notification so that contingency plans can be acted upon," Eskom said.
National Association of School Governing Bodies general-secretary Matakanya Matakanye said the department must ensure there was no disturbance during exams.
He said if they did not convene with Eskom, all exam centres must be provided with generators.
“We are not going to allow our children’s exams to be compromised. The education minister must have a conversation with the minister of energy to hatch a plan on how to save the exams without disruptions. Eskom must save enough energy now for exams.”
Educators Union of SA provincial chairperson André de Bruyn said Eskom must avoid load shedding because it not only influenced study times but impacted the physical writing environment for matrics.
Khalid Sayed, ANC provincial spokesperson on education, said parents should also make sure power units were available during final preparations for last minute learning / review.
Sayed said they should also keep a candle and matches at hand should a power failure or load shedding occur.