'I used my cellphone's torch' to study - load shedding impacts matrics in the heart of their finals

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  • The Department of Basic Education says load shedding is not affecting the matric exams because natural light is available when they write their papers.
  • But a matric pupil says studying is a challenge and that she is forced to use candles and rechargeable lights.
  • Meanwhile, teachers' union, Naptosa, has advised pupils to leave home early to avoid delays on the road caused by load shedding.  

Load shedding is not directly affecting the matric exams because candidates are writing their papers in natural light, according to the Department of Basic Education.

However, it affects evening studying which is why the department is urging pupils to study as much as they can in the day.

Power utility Eskom announced that Stage 4 load shedding would continue throughout the week until Friday 05:00. 

Stage 2 will then be implemented. 

READ | Matric 2021: D-Day for pupils as exams kick off

Fin24 previously reported that Eskom spokesperson Sikhonathi Mantshantsha said a "major incident" in Zambia on Saturday affected the entire Southern African power pool. Imported power from Cahora Bassa reduced by 1 000 MW, and a Tutuka generator tripped. A unit at Tutuka power station was forced to shut down and there were delays in returning units at Lethabo and Majuba power stations.

Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga advised parents and pupils to make alternative arrangements to prepare for their assessments. 

He added that most studying happened at home and that power challenges were experienced there.  

"But during the day, we advise them (matric pupils) to stay in school and study. Stay there and make good use of the daytime sunlight that is available to you in school," Mhlanga said. 

He added: 

When it comes to the actual writing of the examinations, the load shedding [has] no impact at all - whether it's Stage 2 or Stage 4, because the daytime sunlight is always sufficient for us to be able to administer the exam. What is required is pen and paper, and that light, and exams can continue.

Mhlanga added that examinations have been continuing amid load shedding over the past few years and that all centres are expected to be able to proceed.

Naptosa executive director Basil Manuel added that the union was also concerned about the scores of pupils using public transport to reach exam venues because they experience delays on the road when the load shedding affects traffic lights.

"We are now at a point where we are encouraging people to leave much earlier than their normal time and that then puts them in [the] space of workers going to work and there is a tussle for seats, etc." 

Manuel added: "Think of dull [and] poorly lit venues even on a bright day. If the lights are not on, that venue is dull and not optimal. And when you consider that we have had overcast days, you can imagine how bad those classrooms were. Not all places can bring in artificial lighting, etc, additional to electricity and few places would have generators. So, it is a concern."

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