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Tech plans to bust load-shedding during matric exams

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 30 Oct 2023
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga.

The Department of Basic Education has put in place tech measures to ensure matric exams are not disrupted by load-shedding.

This, as over 717 377 matriculants are expected to sit today for their final examinations across 6 898 centres, as the 2023 National Senior Certificate examinations begin.

Briefing the media on the state of readiness for the exams on Sunday, basic education minister Angie Motshekga said the figures are not mere statistics but embody the aspirations, dreams, and relentless efforts of all Grade 12 learners.

Embattled power utility Eskom yesterday announced that after nine days of good generation performance and no load-shedding, it is necessary to replenish emergency reserves due to the current cold weather increasing the demand for electricity.

Stage two load-shedding is under way until 16:00 on Monday. Thereafter, stage three load-shedding will be implemented from 16:00 until 05:00 on Tuesday, followed by stage two load-shedding until 16:00. This pattern will be repeated daily until further notice.

Prior to the exams, there were concerns that power outages would affect computer-related subjects.

To mitigate the challenge of load-shedding, Motshekga said all provincial education departments and schools have devised contingency plans, including backup generators.

She added the computer applications technology and information technology paper one examinations were generally conducted last week without power issues, with isolated incidents and affected candidates isolated and managed.

“We will offer backup power if needed due to power interruptions. In South African sign language home language, candidates’ laptops will be fully charged before each examination commences, and backup power supply measures have been put in place.”

Motshekga said there has been a gradual decrease in the number of candidates when comparing this year’s figures to 2022, and this could be attributed to the fact that more candidates completed their qualifications on time.

“There has been an increase in the number of part-time learners from 168 631 in 2022 to 181 143 in 2023 (an increase of 12 512). A total of 207 question papers, 72 500 invigilators and 52 500 markers will drive the examinations process.

“Furthermore, our roster boasts 72 500 invigilators [who are] ready to ensure the smooth conduct of the examinations, compared to 72 000 last year,” Motshekga said.

Umalusi, the council that sets and monitors standards for general and further education and training in SA, has approved all the question papers to be administered in the October/November 2023 examinations.

The minister assured security measures have been enhanced to prevent paper leaks in all nine provinces, with the State Security Agency having audited the processes.

“Provincial education departments must follow standard operating procedures, training storage point managers in security protocols. Moreover, specific collection times for question papers by chief invigilators have been established to deter early access. Each department has its own irregularity committee to anticipate and mitigate crises.”