Eskom’s reintroduction of load shedding has coincided with the start of South Africa’s first matric examinations – Computer Applications Technology and Information Technology.
In a statement on Wednesday (16 October), the Department of Basic Education said that the load shedding was ‘extremely unfortunate’ as the two subjects require power to be written.
“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. We are monitoring the situation closely ourselves.
“We will look into the possibility of engaging Eskom with a view to alerting them to negative effect the power cuts may have on national exams,” it said.
“We, however, have a backup exam which can be scheduled if there are candidates who are not able to write this exam. Contingency plans are always put in place to accommodate situations of this nature.”
The Western Cape Education Department said that a number of protocols are in place in the event of an electricity outage.
“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,” it 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 the event of an electrical shortage or malfunctioning.”
The department added that it is in constant communication with all the schools via their subject advisors to ensure that the exam is managed in a consistent manner.
“Our priority is to ensure that learners are not further disadvantaged as a result of these cuts,” it said.
More load shedding
Students of other subjects may also find that their planned studies and exam writing is affected as Eskom said that load shedding is likely to continue past Wednesday.
In an interview with 702, the power company’s chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer said that load-shedding could continue for the next week due to the constraints on Eskom’s power generation system.
“At this point in time realistically, we believe load shedding may continue for the next week,” Oberholzer said.
“Should the system improve, obviously we will relieve load-shedding wherever we can,” he added.
In its previous statement, Eskom attributed the power supply constraints to high levels of unplanned breakdowns.
“The supply constraint is caused by, among others, five generating units that are unavailable due to boiler tube leaks,” it said.
“In addition, a conveyor belt supplying Medupi power station with coal failed on Saturday (12 October) resulting in low volumes of coal being supplied to the power station thus limiting the generating capacity to approximately half the station output.”