Court orders department to deliver textbooks for third time

2012-10-04 12:49

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has 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 to public interest group Section 27, declaring that the two departments had failed to comply with two previous court orders.

This was because they 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.

However, Kollapen made no finding regarding the reasons offered by the education departments for their failure, as Section 27 did not ask for an order declaring them in contempt of court.

In terms of an agreement reached between the parties, Kollapen ordered the departments to complete all outstanding textbook deliveries for this year for grades 1, 2, 3, and 10 by October 12.

The departments were ordered to report to the court and Section 27’s attorneys by no later than October 17 about the steps taken to comply with this deadline.

They undertook to file a report by the end of October about the process and outcomes of a spring camp held earlier this month as part of the catch-up plan.

They had to identify the deficiencies of the spring camp and how these would be addressed during the remainder of the year, and set out a mechanism to monitor implementation of next year’s remedial support programme.

The departments undertook to deliver all textbooks for grades 4, 5, 6, and 11 for next year by December 15 this year, and to report on the delivery.

Kollapen refused to appoint an independent person to oversee the delivery process and also to grant a punitive cost order in favour of Section 27.

He ordered the departments to pay half the costs of the present application.

The judge criticised education authorities for ignoring a series of letters in which Section 27 sought information about the delivery of textbooks and the catch-up plan, which resulted in Section 27 having to come to court for a third time.

He said it was distressing that there were still, a month before the end of the school year, outstanding issues and that textbooks had still not been delivered.

“We may not be able to accurately quantify the effect this will have, but children certainly deserved better. What was required in terms of the Constitution was that public administration had to be open and respond to the needs of the people,” he said.

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