Cope dismisses 'disingenuous' Limpopo textbook statement

'Most of the secondary schools in the province experience a shortage of textbooks in mathematics [and] physical science,' said Cope's Patrick Sikhutshi. (Luke Boelitz, M&G)

'Most of the secondary schools in the province experience a shortage of textbooks in mathematics [and] physical science,' said Cope's Patrick Sikhutshi. (Luke Boelitz, M&G)

Outrage at the non-delivery comes more than a month afters schools reopened. In a statement dated February 12, the Congress of the People (Cope), which has members in the provincial legislature, claimed Limpopo schools were battling dire shortages of textbooks.

Patrick Sikhutshi, Cope's Limpopo acting provincial chairperson, was refuting claims by the Department of Basic Education that schools in the province have all textbooks they need.

The Monday statement in which the department claimed it had delivered all needed textbooks to Limpopo "was misleading, disingenuous, inappropriate and very loaded", said Sikhutshi.

The department's spokesperson "Panyaza Lesufi has lied to the public and we are calling on him to apologise and retract his statement", Sikhutshi said.

In the press conference the department held on Monday, Lesufi was angry at the Democratic Alliance for claiming there were still schools in Limpopo without the necessary textbooks.

Lesufi gave the party until Friday to apologise and retract statements it has released to the media about its claims.

" … The DA has misled South Africans. They have until Friday to retract their statement," Lesufi told journalists. "There's no single school in Limpopo that has not received a book."

He accused the party of politicking. "We feel someone is taking advantage of the situation in Limpopo and wants to score political points."

'Accept responsibility for textbook'
But the party stood by its claims. "Minister Angie Motshekga has done the learners of Limpopo a great disservice by refusing to accept responsibility for textbook shortages in schools," Desiree van der Walt, the DA's Limpopo caucus leader, said on Monday in response to the department's denial.

Sikhutshi also provides what he says is evidence some schools still lack textbooks.

He said grade 11 pupils in Swobani Secondary School in Madabani village, Vhembe district, have not received textbooks for mathematics, mathematical literacy, physical science and English.

Pupils in the same grade in Mathaseng secondary have also not received textbooks for life orientation, geography, mathematics and physical science, according to Sikhutshi.

At Sedibeng high, grade 11 pupils await textbooks for life orientation and mathematical literacy, while Sogane secondary has a shortage of economics textbooks in the same grade, and history and life orientation books in Ralekwalana – a secondary school in Machaba village – are also insufficient.

"The above synopsis basically shows that there is a sizeable number of schools that have not received textbooks," said Sikhutshi in the Cope statement.

"Most of the secondary schools in the province experience a shortage of textbooks in mathematics [and] physical science, while most primary schools are without textbooks in English and technology."

The wrath of the department
But principals who alert the public about textbook supply problems in their schools will soon face the wrath of the department, Motshekga's office warned on Monday. The department is investigating Hennie Greyling, principal of Duiwelskloof Primary School, for allegedly revealing to parents the school had not received all textbooks by January 29.

"Shortages may arise due to extra learners having registered late after orders had been placed for a particular school. Those principals who choose to approach political parties instead of the department will be dealt with in terms of the internal disciplinary processes," Lesufi said.

Said Sikhutshi: "Cope is also aware that school principals are always intimidated not to speak to the media and legitimate political parties on this matter. We are sick and tired of this department that continue to posture to the public on matters that are very clear that they continue to puff and huff."

Sikhutshi called on the South African Democratic Teachers' Union and the Professional Educators' Union to "come clean on the issue".

"They have to confirm or deny the statement issued by the department of basic education as their members are directly involved with the schools. They cannot forever remain mum on this sensitive issue that affects schooling of our children," he said.

Bongani Nkosi

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