The sudden return of load-shedding to South Africa places the country’s matric exams at risk, according to a report by the City Press.
Umalusi spokesperson Lucky Ditaunyane told the City Press that the return of load-shedding could be extremely disruptive for matriculants.
“Such disruptions could potentially have a devastating effect on pupils and the integrity of exams,” Ditaunyane said.
“While assessment bodies are required to put contingency plans in place to deal with emergency situations during the conduct of national examinations, Umalusi appeals to Eskom to consider the writing of national examinations when deciding on the schedule for electricity cuts.”
Eskom allayed fears that matric exams would be affected by the power cuts, stating that it was in constant communication with the education departments about their plans.
Speaking in a briefing on Thursday evening, Eskom acting CEO Jabu Mabuza said the power utility was aware of the effect of load-shedding on matric exams, adding that it would ensure that these examinations were unaffected.
The power utility subsequently decided to implement stage 1 load-shedding on Friday morning until 12:00, with stage 2 being implemented thereafter.
“In order to lessen the disruption of exams, we will implement stage one load-shedding from 09:00 until 12:00 and thereafter revert to stage 2 load-shedding until 23:00,” Eskom said.
The Department of Basic Education recently released a statement regarding the return of load-shedding and its effect on matric exams.
The sudden implementation of load-shedding clashed with Computer Applications Technology (CAT) and Information Technology (IT), and although there were contingency plans in place for a power outage, the effect of the blackouts remains unclear.
“The extent of the impact has not been established as yet because we are waiting for provinces to report. We will provide an update at a later stage,” the department said.
“Contingency plans are always put in place to accommodate situations of this nature.”
The Western Cape Education Department has also delivered an update regarding the effect of load-shedding on the IT and CAT exams in the province.
The department said it was “informed at the last minute that load-shedding was to take place”, adding that it immediately began implementing existing protocols for power outages at exam venues across various districts.
When matric IT and CAT exam students experienced load-shedding during their exam, they would have been barred from leaving the venue until the power returned and they were able to complete their examination.
This means that during stage 2 load-shedding, students may have sat in quarantine for up to four and a half hours while they waited for the power to come back on.