THE Department of Basic Education (DBE) has tabled a set of proposals to Eskom for serious consideration in a bid to avoid load shedding affecting matriculants who are currently writing exams.
The proposals include that consideration must be made for load shedding to be avoided when SA Sign Language Home Language (SASL HL) is written on November 23 and 30, as it requires laptops and other assisting devices.
A second proposal was for Eskom to suspend the load shedding every evening, from Sunday to Thursday, for four hours across the country from 7pm to 11pm. That would allow learners to prepare for the examination to be written the following morning.
Those proposals were tabled during the department’s meeting with the Public Enterprises and Eskom managers at the weekend.
DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the meeting was attended by managers from the Department of Public Enterprises led by director-general Kgathatso Tlhakudi, DBE acting director-general Dr Granville Whittle, who was accompanied by a team of managers.
Mhlanga said the purpose of the meeting was to deliberate on the impact of load-shedding on basic education in general and the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations in particular.
He said the department told the Eskom that load shedding was creating a general sense of anxiety and tension to candidates at a time when they should be totally relaxed and focussed on writing their all-important examinations.
“The crucial period of preparing for the examination the night before is now disrupted by load shedding. The added stress emanates from the traffic congestion in the morning due to non-functioning traffic lights,” he said.
During the meeting, Eskom said the proposals would be considered and that a team would be assembled to see how those measures would be implemented.
Eskom’s chief executive, Andre de Ruyter, said that other sectors had also made similar requests and that Eskom would consider the recommendations.
He said Eskom had since adjusted the load-shedding schedule to stage 2 and that in the next few days load-shedding would not happen, and cautioned however that there were no guarantees as the situation was being monitored on a regular basis.
Congress of South African Students (Cosas) acting provincial secretary Mphumzi Giwu said they feel that load shedding was adding a burden to learners who were coming from disadvantaged households and affects underprivileged schools who can’t afford a generator.
ANC provincial spokesperson on education, Khalid Sayed, called on Eskom and all role-players to treat with empathy the plea of thousands who sit for their end-of-year school exams.
Sayed said emergency cuts of the supply were adversely especially affecting the many poor learners and students during their final exams.
“The emergency cuts are a huge distraction to those who prepare and review for these important exams, especially the poor in disadvantaged areas who have no alternatives when the lights go out,” he said.