SAHRC to pronounce on textbook scandal

An interim report following hearings into the alleged non-delivery of textbooks was being compiled and would soon be presented to Parliament, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said on Saturday.

SAHRC spokesperson Isaac Mangena said the commission had concluded preliminary investigations into the matter. "An interim report following this hearing would be compiled by April 30 and presented to Parliament," he said.

The SAHRC hearings into the alleged non-delivery of school textbooks began on April 2, with the Eastern Cape and Limpopo reportedly being the most affected provinces. "The commission invited the presence of the director-general at the department of basic education and all provincial MECs of education from the beginning of the hearing, to present oral and written responses to a listed number of questions around the challenges of delivery of learning material to schools," said Mangena.

The panel had decided to not declare the proceedings closed and to hold further consultations with interested parties who have not presented their submissions yet, he said. "After all submissions have been received, a consolidated report on the state of delivery of learning material to schools in the nine provinces, containing recommendations will be submitted to Parliament for implementation," said Mangena.

All nine provincial education ministers were hauled before the South African Human Rights Commission to answer questions about learning material, the Mail & Guardian reported earlier this month.

Unreliable data from provincial education departments about the ­supply of learning materials, including textbooks, to the country’s schools prompted the interviews.

“The information we got [when we made queries during the Limpopo saga last year] was inconsistent and inadequate,” said Lindiwe Khumalo, the commission’s chief operations officer. “Some provinces would not answer all our questions or they would give us incorrect information about the number of learners they have. This information did not allow the commission to formulate a clear picture about the supply of textbooks and stationery across the country,” Khumalo said.

The M&G reported last year that delivery of schoolbooks was uneven across the country (“Damning report fails Motshekga”, July 13). The basic education department’s draft national school monitoring survey found that only 38% of grade sixes had access to a language workbooks and 50% of Free State grade six pupils had maths textbooks, for instance.

Nikki Stein, an attorney at Section27, the litigation group that forced the basic education department to deliver textbooks in Limpopo last year, said the province presented an extreme, but not isolated, case. “There have been shortages across the country for many years.”

However, some have criticised the commission for not making the hearings public. “All education stakeholders should have been there,” said Nomusa Cembi, the spokesperson of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union. “You can’t trust the government to give concrete information about delivery.” Doron Isaacs, the deputy secretary general of Equal Education, said: “We support the initiative by the commission, but we’re disappointed the hearing was held behind closed doors.” – Sapa with M&G writer

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Guest Author

Related stories

‘I will have to repeat grade 8’

Schools have been closed again. After months of doing schoolwork at home, not all parents think their children are ready to move to the next grade

Another teachers union calls for schools to be closed

Naptosa says it is irresponsible to keep schools open and that this is affecting the mental and physical health of teachers and learners

Sadtu calls for the closure of schools

Citing cases such as a school to which only four learners returned, to be met by 20 teachers, the union said Covid-19 is wreaking havoc on learning

New August 31 deadline for the last learners to return to school

In an amendment published in the Government Gazette on Tuesday, the basic education minister has made further changes to the school return dates for different grades

Only three grades to return to school on Monday

Only grades six, 11 and R will return to school as expected, with the rest to be phased in later in the month

Schools: Confusion rather than clarity and confidence reign

The way in which Angie Motshekga has handled the reopening of schools has caused many people to lose confidence in her

Ingonyama Trust Board moves to retrench staff

More than 50 workers at the Ingonyama Trust Board have been issued section 189 notices

No proof of Covid-19 reinfection, yet

Some people report testing positive for Covid-19 after initially having the disease and then testing negative. Scientists are still trying to understand if this means that reinfection is possible

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday