Textbooks: Education department violated children’s rights – court

2014-05-06 11:26

By failing to deliver textbooks in Limpopo, the department of basic education violated pupils’ rights to education, Judge Neil Tuchten has ruled.

Delivering judgment in the Limpopo textbooks case in the North Gauteng High Court, Tuchten said the department had violated pupils’ rights to education by failing to ensure that all of them had all their textbooks before the beginning of the year.

Last month, Basic Education For All (Befa) hauled the department to court, through civil rights group Section27, after City Press revealed that not all pupils in Limpopo had received their textbooks for the current academic year. At that time, more than 18 000 textbooks were outstanding.

The department and Befa had agreed to deliver the outstanding textbooks for the current academic year by May 8.

The department had also promised to deliver textbooks it failed to deliver since 2012 and those not returned by learners at the end of each year, by June 6. Befa and Section 27 had requested the court to issue an order to this effect. But Tuchten refused to grant the order, only noting it.

Befa’s Tebogo Sephakgamela said: “Textbooks should be delivered. It is the children’s right to get them in January. I hope the department will now comply with their own promise. We don’t want to be in and out of court. When we started the case they (department) called us names, saying we are looking for cheap political points. Now everyone can see that we were not politicking.”

The department’s spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, said he was happy that Tuchten had acknowledged that they had done a lot of work in delivering textbooks.

“He said failure to deliver textbooks could compromise rights to education. We also acknowledge that ourselves. We will work hard to meet the May and June deadlines.”

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