Department leaves learners in the lurch without workbooks

2011-01-15 20:52

Millions of inland primary school learners from Grade 1 to 6 will miss out on up to three weeks of standardised exercises due to the DBE’s revised plans to complete delivery by month-end.

This week the Department of Basic Education (DBE) failed to deliver millions of numeracy and literacy workbooks on the first day for inland schools.

The DBE promised last year that the 12 million numeracy and literacy workbooks, costing R300 million, would be delivered to schools by January 5 to six million learners at 19 000 schools across the country.

The delivery date was then moved to January 12, but the DBE still failed to meet the deadline as only a handful of inland schools received the workbooks.

A printing schedule in City Press’s possession indicates that whole provinces such as North West, Northern Cape and parts of Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga and Limpopo would not be receiving Setswana workbooks on time as they were still being printed.

North West department of education spokesperson Paul Ntlatleng confirmed that the province had not received workbooks.
On Thursday, David Mononyane, school principal of Gamelodi Primary in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria, said he did not know what the new workbooks looked like because his school had not received them.

The printing schedule also showed that the printing of numeracy workbooks for Grade 1 to 3 for Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga were lagging with the last printing job scheduled for Tuesday.

And, that for English, numeracy workbooks for Grade 4 to 6, were only going to be completed on January 24. The Afrikaans versions were already completed.

For literacy workbooks, the lesser spoken languages were behind.

DBE spokesperson Granville Whittle confirmed all workbooks would be delivered to all schools by the end of the month.

He said literacy workbooks were available in isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, siSwati,Tshivenda and Xitsonga and the numeracy ones in Afrikaans, English, isiZulu, Sesotho, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga were still at various stages of completion at the printers.

“These are at various stages of completion, most being close to 100%,” Whittle said.

He also said delivery was achieved in Klerksdorp in North West, but did not elaborate.

Dmitri Holzman, Equal Education’s parliamentary officer, described the delay as disappointing and worrying.

He said the DBE mentioned how crucial the workbooks were, and that Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga spoke of the death of outcome-based-education (OBE) and the need to re-focus, repackage and re-align the curriculum.

Holzman said Motshekga spoke about a lack of clarity and confusion regarding the teaching the curriculum and that workbooks would be crucial in assisting learners and teachers.

“The importance of the workbooks cannot be over-emphasised, but once again the department has failed to stick to a commitment of such a fundamental intervention in the education system,” he said.

Whittle attributed the delay to the weather, the size of the operation in terms of logistics and the fact that a few more pages were added to some of the books.

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