Basic education dept to urgently meet with Eskom CEO as blackouts affect exams

Parliament's portfolio committee on basic education said the power cuts not only affected exams but also impacted the pupils’ preparations.

FILE: The class of 2021 began their national senior certificate exams on 27 October 2021 with English paper one. Picture: @DBE_SA/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - Hundreds of thousands of pupils across South Africa are having to contend with rolling blackouts during the most crucial exam period of the year, causing grave concern for Parliament's portfolio committee on basic education.

The 2021 NSC matric examinations began on Wednesday 27 October, and will conclude on Tuesday 7 December, for ‪897,786‬ students - of which 735 677‬ are full-time and ‪162 109‬ part-time candidates.

The committee met with the Department of Basic Education in Parliament on Tuesday where various issues, including load shedding, were discussed.

The committee said the power cuts not only affected exams but also impacted the pupils’ preparations.

Committee chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba said: "“All indications are that the DBE and its PEDs will be able to deliver quality results and fair examinations."

The department informed the committee that its director-general has already requested an urgent meeting with the Eskom CEO, Andre de Ruyter, which is expected to take place in the next few days. The department assured the committee it would have feedback from the meeting in order for the country and pupils to have some form of certainty.

Other issues that were hashed out included the fact that there had been rotational attendance in 2020 due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant that the 2021 matric class has lost a lot of learning and teaching time.

Consequently, the 2021 matriculants have had to make up the curriculum that was not completed last year.

Furthermore, the class also started the year later, once again due to the pandemic.