Matric pupils in the Northern Cape have pointed out that they have had to make use of alternative methods of studying for their final exams.
WHILE the portfolio committee on basic education and the Northern Cape Department of Education were expressing concerns about the impact of load shedding on the Grade 12 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations, matric pupils in the Province pointed out that they have had to make use of alternative methods of studying for their final exams.
The 2021 NSC exams began on Wednesday, October 27 and will conclude on Tuesday, December 7.
The Northern Cape Department of Education has registered a total of 16,551 candidates, of which 13,056 are full-time candidates and 3,495 are part-time candidates.
Pupils in the Northern Cape explained this week that they had to rearrange their study schedules when Eskom implemented Stage 4 load shedding.
“We had just started with the examinations when it was announced that load shedding will be implemented. The load shedding does not bother me if it is during the day. However, some of us study better at night when everything is quieter and people are asleep. It is, however, a problem when one has to wait for hours for the lights to go on once the power has been cut,” said one pupil from Galeshewe.
“I used my cellphone’s torch to study and a candle when the battery of my cellphone died. It also makes things challenging as we have to use our cellphones to exchange notes or search for previous examination papers. Some days the phone would die because one has to use it to study the notes as well as as a torch. Then there is no way to recharge the battery because there is no power. It is very frustrating when that happens.”
Another pupil from Girls’ High School, who lives in Kimberley North, said that load shedding has added to the pressure she is experiencing.
“There is already so much pressure that the Class of 2021 is under. We had a very challenging year when we were in Grade 11, when Covid-19 hit the country. We now have to conclude our final year of schooling with uncertainty about when Covid-19 will be a thing of the past. We were also informed that the examinations would start earlier than initially planned. Now there is load shedding added to the list,” she said.
“We have even circulated the load shedding schedule along with study notes among our friends on social media to make extra preparations. My hope is just to end this year on a successful note,” she sighed.
Many pupils said their parents have stocked up on candles to help them study.
“My parents bought packs of candles in order to help me study through the night. The candlelight is, however, not as bright as that from a light bulb. One also has to be careful not to burn your books,” one pupil joked.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said on Thursday that the matrics exams have been progressing smoothly so far and the department has contingency plans in place to minimise the impact of load shedding.
“The load shedding had no impact on the manner in which we administer and conduct the NSC examinations. We are, however, concerned about the impact of load shedding on study time and the preparation of learners during the examinations. This adds additional stress and pressure which might affect the emotional well-being of learners,” said Van der Merwe.
“We hope that this situation will return to normal soon in order to provide every learner with a fair chance to succeed in life.”
Van der Merwe urged communities to support Grade 12 pupils during this time.
“These are very important examinations that will ultimately pave the way forward for the future of these learners. We appeal to communities to continue to support the Class of 2021 for the duration of the NSC examinations.”
The chairperson of the portfolio committee on basic education, Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, said, in a statement, that although the current load shedding does not affect the actual exams, it does make studying challenging for pupils.
“It also impacts on the learners’ preparations for the examinations. It is particularly concerning with regards to the final examinations. The director-general has already requested an urgent meeting with the Eskom CEO, which is expected to occur in the next few days. The committee was assured that it would be appraised of the outcome of the meeting in order for South Africans and learners to have some form of certainty,” said Mbinqo-Gigaba.
She also pointed out that the pandemic has already made learning difficult for the thousands of learners across the country and the power shutdowns are adding to the pressure.
“Rotational attendance in 2020, due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, has meant that this class has lost a lot of learning and teaching time. Consequently, the 2021 matrics 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.
“Through additional programmes, such as autumn and spring vacation schools, the sector has tried to make up for lost learning time. Some 20 days were gained through this programme, combined with e-learning and revision.”
Mbinqo-Gigaba added, however, that she is positive the exams will conclude on a positive note.
“All indications are that the Department of Basic Education and its provincial Education Departments will be able to deliver quality results and fair examinations,” she concluded.