Dept says arson to blame for burnt books

2012-07-23 21:20
Burnt textbooks in Eastern Cape (DA)

Burnt textbooks in Eastern Cape (DA)

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Johannesburg - Thousands of burnt textbooks have been found in a warehouse in Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape, the DA said on Monday.

"We have written to MEC Mandla Makupula demanding an explanation as to how valuable public resources for Eastern Cape children were allowed to be destroyed in this irresponsible way," Democratic Alliance provincial education spokesperson Edmund van Vuuren said in a statement.

However, provincial education department spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said the books found in Fort Beaufort were destroyed during an arson attack.

The books were from the old Cape College of Education, which was closed in 1996, and had no relevance to current textbooks, Pulumani said.

"The old store-room was burnt down on 16 June. It is a suspected arson case. The books are more than 10-years-old."

Van Vuuren said the books, most of them mathematics textbooks, were found by a DA inspection team.

"Given the massive shortages of both textbooks and workbooks in schools, every single book that does not reach a school will have an impact on a child’s ability to learn," he said.

Boxes of books still wrapped in packaging were found in other parts of the district warehouse.

"The department needs to account for how many boxes of books remain inside the warehouse, and when these will be delivered to schools," Van Vuuren said.

"The destruction of these books raises serious questions about why proper care was not taken to ensure that they were delivered to schools on time at the beginning of the year."

Like Limpopo, the Eastern Cape has also been plagued by textbook problems.

Earlier this month, several thousand school workbooks were returned to the Eastern Cape education department because they were in the wrong language.

When approached for comment, provincial officials referred all questions to the national department.

National spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said the department ordered books based on numbers given to it by the province.

"The other provinces all seem to be correct, so why is it only in the Eastern Cape? It must tell you something about that province," he said.

At the time, Van Vuuren said the department's database for Port Elizabeth showed 25 370 literacy workbooks and 15 500 numeracy workbooks were still outstanding.

"Claims... that chronic book delivery problems are limited only to the Port Elizabeth district, are false," he said.

- SAPA

Read more on:    polokwane  |  port elizabeth  |  east london  |  education

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