‘12 schools still without textbooks’

2013-05-05 00:00

About 12 schools in Limpopo still don’t have textbooks, rights group Section27 claims. And it is prepared to go to court over it.

Said the organisation’s Nikki Stein: “These include books for the new curriculum introduced in Grades 4, 5, 6 and 11 this year and textbooks for Grades 1, 2, 3 and 10 (introduced last year). Our intention is to return to court should these shortages not be addressed urgently.”

Last year, the organisation successfully forced the department of basic education (DBE) through court action to deliver textbooks to schools in Limpopo.

Now, Section27 has written a letter to the parliamentary portfolio committee on education, requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the nondelivery of textbooks and issues including sanitation and overcrowding.

Stein said although the committee had acknowledged receipt of the letter, it had not indicated when it might meet the organisation or if it was willing to meet.

“It would be very important for us to meet the committee. There is no deadline, but it is urgent. There is a crisis in education, which needs to be sorted out quite urgently. We will need to sit down and discuss the way forward if we don’t hear from them.”

Addressing the committee in her letter, Stein said: “The toilets at many schools in Limpopo are unhygienic and unfit for use by teachers and learners.

Most schools in Limpopo use basic pit toilets. Many of these pits are full and the structures dilapidated. In two of our client schools, the toilet structures have collapsed completely and some schools have no functioning toilets at all. Both teachers and learners are forced to relieve themselves in the bushes.”

Stein said furniture shortages were so severe in some schools that pupils brought their own chairs from home.

“Other schools operate on a first come, first served basis and learners arrive at school as early as 6am to ensure that they have a place to sit in class. Those who do not arrive early enough stand, sit on the floor or share desks and chairs with their classmates.”

The general infrastructure in many schools is in a dilapidated state, with leaking roofs, holes in the floor and broken windows, said Stein.

“At Jaji Secondary School, the leaks in the roof allow rain in, to the point that teachers and learners carry umbrellas in class.”

Spokesperson for the department, Panyaza Lesufi, said Section27 had reported the nondelivery of textbooks to the Human Rights Commission and that it was only fair to wait for the outcome of that probe before commenting.

“Let’s wait for due process and we will comment after the release of the commission’s finding.”

He said it was unfair for Section27 to demand piecemeal answers when there was a probe under way.

The commission, he said, had powers to subpoena the department to explain itself on issues relating to textbook delivery.

A representative of the portfolio committee could not be reached for comment.

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