Limpopo fails pupils again

2014-03-30 14:00

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Hundreds of kids still have no textbooks

23 schools are still short of more than 18 000 books

The lobby group wants outstanding material by April 7

‘Politicians and  officials are not telling the truth’

Limpopo schools’ fight for textbooks is going back to court, spearheaded by 23 schools who say that between them they are still short of more than 18 000 books.

The case, which was initiated by lobby group Basic Education for All, through civil rights organisation Section27, is due to be heard at the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday.

The lobby group wants the court to rule that the department of basic education must provide all outstanding books by April 7.

They then want the department to submit an affidavit to court confirming the deliveries – and to provide a plan before April 10 about how it plans to address textbook shortages in the province in the longer term.

They also want the SA Human Rights Commission to get involved in monitoring the delivery of the books.

The department told City Press on Friday it was aware of the court action and was busy studying the documents.

It’s not the first time the department has been hauled before court because of its failure to deliver textbooks in Limpopo.

In May 2012, Section27 succesfully approached the same court to force delivery.

But the department failed to comply with the order, forcing the civil rights group to return to court twice to get it to enforce the initial order.

Earlier this month City Press visited eight schools in Limpopo and found most still operating without any, or all, the textbooks they needed.

It also emerged that schools in the North West and Northern Cape were struggling without all the books required.

Last year the department promised that by this January, all public schools around the country would have textbooks for every pupil in every subject.

Basic Education for All’s Tebogo Sephakgamela said the organisation had made “several follow-ups” with the department, “all to no avail”.

“As I speak to you I am in Thohoyandou to follow up with some of the schools. This morning I received a call from Gonela Primary School and they are complaining bitterly about the lack of books,” Sephakgamela said.

He claimed that many other schools were also struggling without books but had opted not to be part of the court action because they feared reprisals from the department.

“The politicians and officials are not telling the truth when they keep telling the media that 100% of books have been delivered,” he said.

In affidavits which form part of the court bundle, schools detail how the lack of textbooks has affected them.

Sekgothe Mawela, the chairman of Tshehlwaneng Senior Secondary School, who submitted an affidavit on behalf of the school, wrote: “The lack of textbooks is having a serious and negative impact on our learners’ education.

“Learners are unable to learn effectively in class and cannot do their homework regularly. In the interim, teachers have been borrowing textbooks from neighbouring schools and making copies for our learners.”

In its founding affidavit, Basic Education for All writes: “The continued failure by the [department] to ensure full textbook delivery has lasted the entire school term.

“During this time the applicants have repeatedly engaged the respondents through Section27 as their legal representatives to resolve the shortages reported. The continued violation of the rights of the learners attending public schools in Limpopo cannot be allowed to continue into the second school term.”

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