Despite assurances that the education department would meet a high court ordered deadline, some Limpopo schools are still without textbooks.
The order that nongovernmental organisation Section 27 secured from the North Gauteng High Court on May 17 ruled textbooks for grades one, two, three and 10 pupils should reach all schools by no later than June 15.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga vowed in a press briefing last Thursday that the department would meet the deadline. “We are … [o]n time to meet the deadline for delivery to all schools by tomorrow,” she told the widely covered briefing.
New textbooks were needed after the department announced the phasing in of a new curriculum called the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements.
But on Monday the department would not say whether it had achieved its objectives. Responding to a Mail & Guardian query, the department said it was not in position to confirm if all schools had textbooks.
“We are currently collecting all the relevant information on progress from our service providers,” said Terence Khala, one of the department’s spokespeople. “We will be in a better position to comment tomorrow [Tuesday].”
But indications that the department had not delivered as per undertaking are stark. Nikki Steyn, an attorney at Section 27, told the M&G some of the schools they are monitoring still did not have textbooks.
In a statement sent later on Monday, the department said it had received all textbooks it ordered from publishers. The department said its deliveries prioritised grades 1, 3, 6 and 10 in terms of the court order. In an admission that it didn’t deliver within the set deadline, the department said: “All other grades will then be prioritised during the course of this week.”
‘Crisis of textbooks unresolved’
Section 27 announced last Friday it had found the “crisis of textbooks ... unresolved”, during a fact-finding mission it undertook with the National Association of School Governing Bodies.
The NGO hoped every school would have its textbooks delivered during this week, said Stein. “We would need to go back to court if delivery does not take place soon.”
The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union Limpopo chairperson, Ronald Moroatshehla, confirmed to the M&G that Mashopa High School in Ga-Modjadji, where he is a principal, had not received textbooks for its grade 10 learners.
“The department has not even communicated with us about delivery,” said Moroatshehla.
Motshekga’s department has been running Limpopo’s education department since it was placed under administration last December.
The Democratic Alliance said on Monday it was aware of at least four schools that had not received textbooks.
The party’s basic education spokesperson Annette Lovemore listed Mponegele Primary School and Lotang Primary School in Seshego, as well as Serutle Secondary School and Tubake Secondary School in the Lepelle Nkumpi Municipality, as schools still without textbooks.
“There is no doubt that many other schools in the province are still without textbooks,” said Lovemore.
Lovemore said she would request Hope Malgas, chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on basic education, to call Motshekga for an urgent meeting to “explain her department’s failure to meet the court’s requirements”.
She accused Motshekga of being in contempt of the court order. “Minister Motshekga has some explaining to do.”