Find a solution to Limpopo textbook saga, judge orders

2014-04-01 12:46

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Lobby group Basic Education for All, civil rights organisation Section27 and the department of basic education have been ordered to find a solution to the Limpopo textbook saga.

If they fail to reach an amicable solution, they should return to court, Judge Neil Tuchten said today.

On Friday, Basic Education for All and Section27 filed papers at the North Gauteng High Court seeking an urgent order to force the department of basic education to deliver outstanding books to schools in Limpopo.

On Sunday, City Press reported that about 23 schools in Limpopo were still short of about 18 000 books.

Chris Erasmus SC, who was representing the education department, told the court that “the shortfall is in the process of being delivered, but there are budgetary issues”.

In response, Tuchten said: “I can’t tell the state how to allocate its funds, but I can make an order if its remiss in fulfilling its constitutional obligation. If there is no agreement, I will decide. At the root of the problem is that there are poor children who say they don’t have books.”

Adila Hassim, counsel for Basic Education for All and Section27, disputed that the department had budgetary constraints. She also expressed doubt about the likelihood of the two parties reaching an out-of-court settlement.

It is now the fourth time that Section27 and the department have been involved in court battles regarding the delivery of textbooks to schools in Limpopo.

In 2012, the civil rights group secured a court order that compelled the department to supply schools with books. The department failed to comply with the order. Section27 went to court twice to have the order enforced.

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