Soobrayan failed to exercise leadership in Eastern Cape’s textbook crisis – Madonsela

2013-12-05 16:38

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Basic education director general Bobby Soobrayan failed to exercise the necessary diligence and leadership during the Eastern Cape’s textbook crisis, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has found.

Releasing several reports in Pretoria today, Madonsela urged minister Angie Motshekga to hold Soobrayan and Eastern Cape education head of department Mthunywa Lawrence Ngonzo accountable.

“The appropriate remedial action as envisaged in the Constitution is that the minister should hold Mr Soobrayan accountable for actions and omissions that resulted in the failure to prevent, contain, and solve the national school books crisis,” she said.

“Their conduct was in violation of the Constitution, which stipulates that ‘all Constitutional obligations must be performed diligently and without delay’.”

The omissions of Soobrayan and Ngonzo constituted improper conduct and maladministration.

The Public Protector’s report, “Learning Without Books”, follows investigations into complaints lodged by Edmund van Vuuren, a member of the Eastern Cape provincial legislature and Democratic Alliance spokesman regarding workbook shortages in the province. He lodged the complaint in August 2012.

According to Madonsela’s findings, released today, the education department failed to provide adequate school workbooks on time in Eastern Cape schools.

“Books transcribed in the incorrect language were provided to the schools, [there were] shortages of workbooks delivered to the schools, and there was late delivery of the workbooks,” Madonsela told reporters in Pretoria.

“The national department of education violated the provisions of section 29 of the Constitution by failing to provide basic education in the form of school workbooks to everyone in the language of their choice.”

She said there was a clear system failure evidenced by inadequate monitoring of the workbook ordering process. The ordering process was inaccurate in determining the quantity of workbooks required.

“There was no co-ordination mechanism in place at all levels of the department of basic education’s national, provincial, district, and school levels to regulate the provision of workbooks.”

She said the department’s failure had prejudiced pupils by exposing them to inferior education in comparison to their counterparts elsewhere.

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