National tragedy: entire school days are being lost to load shedding

By Zukile Majova

Millions of learners returning to school for the 2023 academic year are getting a nasty surprise: four to six hours of education lost because of rolling blackouts.

Stage 4 to Stage 6 load shedding, now being implemented indefinitely, cuts electricity for eight to 12 hours sending the learners out to recess for hours.

In most of the country’s 24,900 schools, this means loitering on the school grounds as no-fee schools cannot afford electricity generators.

With load shedding at school during the day and at home in the evenings, learners battle to do homework while others get up at 3am to bathe just before the 4am to 8am schedule.

Nomusa Cembi, the spokesperson for SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), told Scrolla.Africa that schools that do not get natural sunlight are forced to stop functioning during load shedding.

“It has become quite urgent that Eskom resolves the load shedding problem because not all schools can afford generators and backup power.

“We are asking the government to pilot the introduction of solar power and other green energy solutions in schools.”

So far in 2023, Eskom has implemented rolling blackouts every day in South Africa, and there are over 350 days of load shedding projected for the year.

This week, President Cyril Ramaphosa cancelled his scheduled trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos and assembled his National Energy Crisis Committee to find an immediate course of action to scale down load shedding.

The committee said at least 14 power generators are expected to return to service this week, while load shedding was scaled down to Stage 4 on Tuesday and then back up to Stage 5 on Wednesday.

At least 16,173 megawatts of generation capacity has been lost to breakdown in the national grid while a further 12 generators representing 5,804MW are on planned maintenance.

Necom announced the following measures to end load shedding;

·         Approve the introduction of new power plants quicker

·         Finish incomplete plants and refurbish others

·         More money resources to be injected in six of Eskom’s 14 coal fired power stations to ensure reliability

·         2,000 megawatts of power to come into the national grid (1000MW from neighbouring countries and 1,000MW from private producers)

·         Fast track construction of renewable energy plants expected to produce 2,800MW

·         The first of 100 private power stations is due to be completed this year. Together these plants are expected to produce 9,000MW.

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