DURBAN - EDUCATION MEC Kwazi Mshengu wants Eskom to stop load shedding during exam time.
He has written to the national department asking it to negotiate with the embattled power utility to reschedule the load shedding times so that they did not clash with exam times on the day.
This was after Stage 4 was implemented this week until Friday. On Monday, matric pupils wrote maths paper 2.
Mshengu’s spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa confirmed that the MEC was concerned with these exam disruptions.
Mthethwa said all was going well with the exams, but their biggest worry was load shedding, which the MEC felt was causing serious problems for pupils and the department.
Teacher unions in the province also shared these concerns. National Teachers Union (Natu) secretary Cynthia Barnes said Natu was surprised that the government was able to cancel load shedding during the elections but could not do the same for the matric exams.
“We are very angry at the government and Eskom. This is very unfair. The government should have considered this, especially when we all know that Covid-19 affected a lot of schooling time,” said Barnes.
National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa) chief executive officer, Thirona Moodley, said Eskom’s challenges were not only severely impacting the economy of the country, but also teaching and learning. She said load shedding had a major impact on pupils writing and preparing for exams.
“Pupils have a study timetable and know the pace they need to study to be ready for exams. However, with the sudden onset of load shedding, they are left feeling stress and anxiety,” said Moodley.
Further, she said during stage 4, areas may load shed up to 6 hours a day, resulting in most of the study day being lost. She said writing exams had also been impacted with poor lighting in exam rooms.
Meanwhile, excited pupils at Menzi High School in uMlazi on Monday said their maths paper 2 was easy compared to the one they wrote during the September matric trials.
They spoke to the Daily News after the three-hour paper. The high school became prominent for consistently achieving a 100% pass rate and assisting neighbouring schools to achieve outstanding results, including private schools.
Ayavuya Mbambo, 17, from P section, said the paper was easy because of the effort put in by her teachers, who went the extra mile preparing them for the exam.
“I think the paper was manageable. There were a few questions that I found challenging, but I think I was able to overcome them. I am very confident that I did well with this compared to the one we wrote during the trial exams. This time I was able to manage my time and completed the paper in the required three hours.”
Siphephelo Sosibo, 17, from F section, said focusing on the easy questions was a good strategy for him to finish on time.
“The paper was easy and doable this time. The paper we wrote in September for our trials was difficult for me. I struggled mostly with euclidean geometry in the last exams, which resulted in me not being able to finish the paper on time.” Section P’s
Andiswa Mbatha, 17, said although there were challenging questions, she was confident about the paper.
“I think the paper was quite fair although I did find some questions a bit challenging, but I believe I did well. I had prepared myself both at home and school to master my calculations.”
Austin Tucker, 17, from H section said the paper was 90% of what he had expected. “The paper was so easy for me. It had almost all the questions I was prepared for and I think I answered them in the correct way. However, there were questions that needed me to think for some time in terms of analytic and euclidean geometry. I still think all was fine because I finished on time and got time to check all my answers.”
School maths head of department Sifiso Kubeka said he was optimistic that they would maintain their 100% matric pass rate.
“We worked very smart preparing our pupils for their exams. We practised using previous questions which were mostly from other provinces. We prepared the pupils by reducing the time allocated for the paper. This made it easier for the pupils to finish a 3-hour paper within 2 hours,” said Kubeka.
He said although they were disturbed by load shedding during the preparations, their success should be attributed to both the teachers and pupils’ efforts.
“They were committed to go the extra mile.”