/ 6 October 2012

Section27: Report confirms corruption in textbook saga

Allegations of fraud and corruption surrounding the textbook debacle in Limpopo must be investigated, Section27 said on Saturday.

"The crisis … occurred in the context of allegations of fraud and corruption," executive director of the rights group, Mark Heywood said.

He said the report of a presidential task team into the non-delivery of the textbooks "confirms these allegations".

"We maintain that it is essential that these allegations are fully investigated and that where necessary criminal proceedings are instituted and stolen monies recovered," said Heywood.

"In particular, the report confirms that there must be an investigation into the Limpopo Department of Education's contract with EduSolutions."

Section27 supported the report's recommendation to hold administrative department heads, both provincially and nationally "accountable" for the non-delivery of textbooks for Grades one, two, three and 10.

"The president's decision to request that the Public Service Commission investigate the conduct of both the national and provincial departmental heads is fully justified."

Heywood said that his organisation also supported recommendations related to having cabinet's responsibilities more clearly defined in such contexts.

"[We] call on the president to report back to the country on progress before the end of the 2012 school year."

Support materials
On Friday, the presidency said that the director general of the department of basic education, Bobby Soobrayan, must be investigated in light of the task team's report.

This was to do with issues including Soobrayan's alleged indecisiveness on receipt of a letter from the textbook publishers in December last year.

In the letter, the publishers reminded him that the learner, teacher support materials (LTSM) had not been ordered for the Limpopo education department.

He also apparently failed to provide the necessary support when the Limpopo department of education was placed under national administration.

Section27 previously asked Soobrayan to resign over the Limpopo textbook saga.

The presidency also said that the report indicated that reasons for the delays included: that the Limpopo education department had outsourced the procurement and distribution of LTSM, and had not implemented a risk management plan.

It had also not taken orders timeously, nor had it managed the contract with the service provider, EduSolutions, efficiently.

Neither the national or provincial departments had credible data on how many pupils needed to be catered for.

On Thursday, the High Court in Pretoria granted a third court order compelling the national and Limpopo education departments to urgently deliver textbooks to the province's schools.

Judge Jody Kollapen granted an order as these departments had failed to deliver all textbooks by specified deadlines and failed to devise a catch-up plan for children and teachers as set out in the court order.

Kollapen ordered the departments to complete all outstanding textbook deliveries for 2012 for Grades one, two, three, and 10 by October 12. – Sapa.