Parliament rejects Limpopo catch-up plan

On Tuesday, the department outlined to Parliament's portfolio committee on basic education how the plan would be implemented and what it entailed but the department's senior officials were sent packing by parliamentarians, who ordered them to return with a definite plan next week.

Parliamentarians rejected what was presented to them as unclear, failing to address the affected grades, and lacking urgency with one MP adding that it was "an insult to us and to Limpopo learners".

The new plan must have timelines and state what action will be taken by when; it must also be focused on intervention for Grade 10s and be different from the ordinary day-to-day teaching and learning and have urgency attached to it.

MPs also questioned the role that would be played by local "role-players" in implementing the plan, as they had been part of the initial problem while stressing the need to hold certain people accountable.

Basic education's Dr Trish Watson didn't present the actual plan to the committee but gave an outline of what the 10-point strategy entailed.

The catch-up plan is meant to mitigate the impact of the textbook crisis on Limpopo pupils. Many Limpopo pupils have still not received textbooks halfway through the school year.

The ANC's Nomalungelo Gina was the first to propose that the presentation "not be entertained because it's not what we were expecting".

While she suggested that the department return with a better plan next week, she added: "I don't even think you will come up with a plan."

Another ANC parliamentarian Zondi Makhubele pointed out that they expected to hear about the impact caused by the lack of delivery of textbooks, which necessitated the catch-up plan. "That impact will then tell whether your intervention is at the level equal to the impact. And I'm not getting that in the presentation. We don't get the feeling this is a catch-up plan."

"To us this is no a catch-up plan," he added.

The DA's Annette Lovemore said the plan was not focused on the affected grade – Grade 10. "This is what should be done normally, on a day-to-day basis. You talk about Annual National Assessments [which are written by Grades 3, 6 and 9] and the Senior Certificate [matric].

She said the original plan had made reference to study guides and additional tuition, which were not mentioned in Tuesday's presentation.

"As far as I can see the 'war room' is the only point [out of the ten points] that addresses the plan problem," said Lovemore.

Both committee chairperson, Hope Malgas (ANC), and the IFP's Alfred Mpontshane said it was important to hold people accountable for what had happened.

The MPs were further incensed when, despite their seniority, the department's officials said they were not able to respond to the posed questions.

Last week, NGO Section27, which took the department to court over the failure to deliver  textbooks, criticised the plan saying it was inadequate and violated the court order and the settlement agreement between itself and the department.

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