The basic education department failed to comply with a court order to meet its textbook delivery deadline, legal NGO Section27 says.
“On the first day of a new [school] term, there is a risk that many learners still remain without textbooks or with insufficient textbooks,” Section27 executive director Mark Heywood said in Johannesburg.
He was briefing reporters on a report on the late delivery of textbooks in Limpopo.
“We accept that all… figures [in the report] require further verification. But on these facts the department of basic education remains in violation of the court order. This needs very urgent remedy.”
The report, by former education director general Mary Metcalfe, found that despite the extended date for the delivery of textbooks, June 27, the department’s assertion that 98 percent of the books were delivered was partially incorrect.
“Professor Metcalfe’s report shows that on 27th June, only 15 percent of books had been delivered to schools. By July 3 this had increased to 48 percent. According to the report, by July 11, 22 percent of the sample schools were still awaiting textbooks,” Heywood said.
Section27 accepted the recommendations made by Metcalfe in the report, and called for their “urgent implementation”.
“It is very clear from this and other reports that the Limpopo education department is rotten, riven (rife) with corruption and incapable of meeting its constitutional obligation to learners,” Heywood said.
“We call for the department to be cleaned out, for the vigorous prosecution of charges of corruption, for maximum openness about those charged, and for the [Limpopo] MEC for basic education, Dickson Masemola, to be fired.”
He said the “crisis” not was Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s sole responsibility.
Basic education spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said the department accepted the report and would work to implement its recommendations.
“We await further reports to make an accurate assessment on the matter. We are going to Limpopo to count each and every learner and teacher to ensure that this situation does not happen again.”
Section27 had taken the department to court to force it to deliver the books, after some schools in the province had been without them for seven months.
The Metcalfe report was compiled in response to the department’s assertion that 98 percent of the books were delivered.
A presidential task team and the Limpopo government were also conducting their own investigations into the situation, which had been accompanied by media reports of textbook dumping, irregular ordering and tender processes.