Education quality assurance council Umalusi believes continuous power cuts across South Africa due to load shedding may have a negative impact on the 2021 matric results.
Power utility Eskom has been implementing load shedding since Grade 12 pupils started writing their matric exams on 27 October, with only two- or three-day breaks in between that time.
This is due to challenges ranging from shortages of generation capacity, low diesel levels and units tripping at several of Eskom’s power stations.
Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, Umalusi CEO Mafu Rakometsi said load shedding would affect the quality of the exams, as well as the results.
“Load shedding will negatively impact on the results. If students are not able to study adequately, then that is a problem.
“I want to say that people are not equally sighted in terms of how they can see and immediately you have to write in a dark room. That situation is going to affect the students differently. [They] might struggle to go through the question papers and struggle to write because they are writing in a room that [isn’t] well lit,” Rakometsi said.
The Department of Basic Education (DBE), meanwhile, has reiterated that natural light will stop load shedding from disrupting the matric exams.
“Exams have been continuing and even as I write this message, exams are sitting and load shedding is happening, but there’s no disruption. All you need is [a] pen, paper and sufficient daytime light for exams to continue.
“Load shedding is a concern in terms of the preparation for the exams because learners cannot study, but the writing is proceeding well,” DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga told The Citizen on Monday morning.
Asked about contingency plans put in place by the department to prevent potential disruptions, Mhlanga said: “There are no disruptions due to load shedding.”
Mhlanga previously indicated that the department had already communicated with Eskom about its concerns over load shedding.
Meanwhile, the Public Servants Association (PSA) in KwaZulu-Natal has called on government to deal with the load shedding crisis.
“Some of the learners cannot be able to study at night, even during the day, if the weather is like this. If you write exams in the dark it is a problem […] it frustrates our educators because if the results come negative they will be criticised.
“It is for these reasons where we say something needs to be done. You cannot load shedding since 2007 as it is on and off,” PSA provincial manager Mlungisi Ndlovu told eNCA.
During a media briefing last month, Priscilla Ogunbanjo, director of public examinations and assessment at DBE, revealed that the class of 2021 could expect to receive their National Senior Certificate (NSC) exam results at the end of January next year.
“At the end of December, we expected to have captured all the marks because we are going to be finishing marking at the 22 of December.
“And we will go onto our pre-standardisation processes by the 6th of January and we’re expecting the minister [Angie Motshekga] will be announcing the results by the 20th of January and provinces will release thereafter on the 21st,” Ogunbanjo said.
A total of 897,786 candidates are expected to sit for their NSC exams at more than 7,000 examination centres across the country.
This year’s matric exams will conclude on 7 December.