Eskom's load shedding has also affected matric learners in the Western Cape currently writing their NSC examinations. File picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Eskom's load shedding has not only left the country scurrying to be prepared for power cuts, but it has also affected matric learners currently writing their NSC examinations.

Bronagh Hammond, Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson, said that despite various contingency measures having been put in place, and assurances from ESKOM as recently as Tuesday, the WCED were informed at the last minute that loadshedding was to take place across the country.

"Our examinations team immediately liaised with the various district offices to inform them of the warning of loadshedding and requested that existing protocols for electricity shortages during a Computer Applications Technology (CAT) exam be put in place.

"These protocols include ensuring that no learner leaves the examination venue should the electricity cut out, and that they are instead quarantined until electricity resumes and technical assistance is provided," Hammond said. 

"Learners that had already begun the exam, will continue with where they left off once the electricity comes back on. There is an automatic save function so that learners do not lose the work already completed in event of an electrical shortage or malfunctioning."

The WCED said that they are in constant communication with all the schools via their subject advisors to ensure that the exam is managed in consistent manner.

"Our priority is to ensure that learners are not further disadvantaged as a result of these cuts.

"District staff have been on standby and are assisting schools that have been affected in monitoring the security protocols and the re-starting of the computer’s once the electricity comes back on," Hammond said.

"We do not yet have a final numbers on how many centres have been affected. Thus far we are aware of approximately 30 centres."

The WCED said that the same protocol for today, will apply for Thursday's IT examination.

Today, 8 960 learners wrote the CAT examination at 274 centres. On Thursday, there are 939 learners registered to do the Information Technology examination at 83 centres.

Cape Argus