A call to be considerate of the plight of learners and students in the light of Loadshedding

10 November 2021

The current load-shedding is having an adverse impact on leaners and students at this critical time of the academic year. The advent of COVID-19 and the restrictions imposed as a result thereof have already had an adverse impact on teaching and learning. Students, learners and their teachers have had to adopt extra-ordinary measures and improvise to cope with the impact of COVID-19. This was based on the understanding that COVID-19 is a national disaster partly beyond the control of anyone.

 As teachers and students are still recovering from the effects of COVID-19 and at critical stage in the academic year, they now have to contend with the adverse impact of load-shedding as they prepare and sit for the year end examination. Whilst it is understandable that load-shedding affects everyone and is the consequence of long outstanding issues which impact on the functionality and capacity of Eskom, it is important that measures be put in place to mitigate against the adverse effect of load-shedding on the year end examinations underway.

Understandably, the national grid is under tremendous pressure owing to various factors. This however requires that those responsible for both Eskom and education to find mechanism to mitigate this problem. Load-shedding has assumed a rather negative effect and has become the most single distraction to learners and students whose preparations for the examinations has become a nightmare. In addition to the adverse effect of load-shedding on the ability of learners and students to prepare, the current load-shedding schedule adversely affect those learners and students who have to travel longer distances to their examination centres. The level of traffic congestion caused by load-shedding has resulted in students and learners arriving late and some may as a result be disqualified from entering the examination hall. Students and learners whose assessments involves the use of equipment or tools which require electricity supply are also adversely affected.

The current situation, regardless of the reasons or circumstances under which it happens,  adversely affect the right of learners to education and has a direct adverse impact on their emotional and psychological being. In many other instances learners will be exposed to safety and security risks particularly in those instances where alternative arrangements are made to enable them to study and prepare away from their homes.

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) appreciates the efforts being taken by communities and teachers to accommodate some of the learners at schools overnight to enable them to prepare but warns against the reality that schools are not adequately equipped to accommodate learners for that purpose. These arrangements also require that the affected learners be assisted with proper and adequate meals as they cannot spend long hours without access to proper nutrition as this also affect their learning capability.

SADTU calls upon the responsible authorities including Eskom, the Department of Basic Education and all other relevant authorities to urgently find a reasonable mechanism to reduce the adverse impact of load-shedding on the current examinations. Amongst others:

  • We call on the relevant authorities to put in place mechanisms to ensure that electricity supply to all schools is not disrupted or alternative methods of supply are implemented to enable learners to use schools under proper circumstances for their preparation.
  • We call on the Department of Basic Education to put in place measures to ensure that learners and students who arrive late for their examinations and/or who require electricity supply to conduct examination are not prejudiced.
  • We also call on the Department of Basic Education to urgently consult with Eskom and, based on such consultations, respond accordingly to minimise the disruptions which cause collective trauma to both learners and teachers.
  • We also call on the Department of Basic Education to afford all learners who have missed their examination as a result of load shedding to be afforded an opportunity to write those examinations during this examination session.
  • We further call on the government to investigate the allegations that the technician ignored the red light warning of low oil that led to the tripping three days before the elections. It is our considered view that this was a sabotage to support the call for the firing of the ESKOM board and those who are dealing with the rot that was characterising ESKOM.
  • We call on Eskom to do everything in their power to address our electricity challenges because it affects the growth of our economy which impacts on our ability to create jobs and fight against poverty.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

CONTACT:

General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968

Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651

Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157