Where are the books?

2013-05-12 14:01

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Limpopo’s teachers are fuming, but department says there’s nothing it can do.

Nearly halfway through the academic year, a number of primary and high schools in Limpopo are still without textbooks and ­workbooks.

And the department of basic ­education’s response? “There’s nothing we can do about it.”

One school is R56?000 over its annual paper budget because teachers have resorted to googling parts of the curriculum, printing these pages and photocopying them so that pupils have something to study.

Laerskool Kruger Park, an ­Afrikaans-medium school in Mokopane, hasn’t received a single textbook this year from the department of basic education.

Teachers and principals at ­several schools refused to give their names because, they say, the ­department comes down hard on anyone who speaks to the media about the nondelivery of textbooks.

A distressed teacher at Kruger Park told City Press: “It’s very bad. We have been struggling with the department since November 2012.

“We have called the (department’s) hotline, interacted with (NGO) Section27, written numerous letters to the department, but nothing seems to be helping.

“Yesterday they told me that I have to be patient because they were working on the problem. I can’t be patient. It’s five months since schools opened.”

This year, the department is ­rolling out the new Curriculum ­Assessment Policy Statements (Caps) for grades 4, 5, 6 and 11.

The curriculum was introduced to grades R, 1, 2, 3 and 10 last year.

But without the books containing the new Caps, teachers are stuck.

The Kruger Park teacher said they now download whatever Caps material they can find on the ­internet.

“We then translate everything to Afrikaans before printing and ­making copies, which costs us a lot of money.”

The department of basic education’s Panyaza Lesufi said it was not true that Kruger and other schools had absolutely no ­textbooks.

“Kruger Park received the wrong books. They sent them back and we later sent the correct consignment,” insisted Lesufi.

He said he was aware that many schools had shortages, but said there was nothing he could do about it.

“The department’s policy is that it will only be in 2014 that every learner will have a textbook for ­every subject and in every grade.”

The department, he said, left it to provinces to decide on the ratio of pupils per book.

“They just have to share until 2014.”

Teachers at Merensky High School in Tzaneen are as frustrated as their Kruger Park counterparts.

A teacher there said they had ­exceeded their paper budget by R56?000.

“It’s a big problem for us. Every day I speak to the circuit, district and national offices, and it appears that no one wants to listen.

“If we are R56?000 over budget in May, can you imagine what the situation will be by the end of the year?”

Some schools have received only a few of the textbooks they ordered.

The Bessie Maake High School in Majakaneng Village has not ­received any history, economics, Sepedi, life sciences and English first additional language textbooks for its Grade 11s.

The school has 191 Grade 10s, but has received only about 50 ­textbooks per subject for this grade. It has not received any Grade 10 economics textbooks.

A teacher at Bessie Maake High School said: “It’s hard, I’m telling you. Our curriculum is not well managed and teachers are ­complaining.”

Teachers at Valdezia Higher ­Primary in Makhado rely on the goodwill and help of teachers from neighbouring schools to get work done. Valdezia has not received any textbooks for natural sciences and technology for grades 5 and 6. It has no books for Grade 5 English.

A teacher at Valdezia said: “We borrow books from other schools and make copies. Three learners share a copy.

“We have three classes per grade and all grades share the same ­copies.”

Teachers and principals at ­several of the schools contacted by City Press said they had even visited the department’s warehouses across Limpopo to try to track down the books they ordered.

But they said the warehouses were empty.

“I know other principals who have been to the warehouse and they were also told there are no books,” said one teacher.

Section27, which last year took the department to court to force it to deliver books to Limpopo’s schools, said the department had set itself a deadline to deliver books to all schools on Friday.

The organisation’s Nikki Stein said: “They gave us the deadline of May 10. We will start assessing the delivery (in the coming week) and decide what to do.

“But we can’t rule out going to court again.”

For the record

In this article, published on May 12 2013, City Press revealed several schools in Limpopo did not have all their textbooks for the year.

The department of basic education sent a series of invoices, which it says proves the schools named have received the books they were allocated. Due to an editorial oversight, this information was not included in the story.

We reported that Bessie Maake High School had not ­received any history, economics, geography, Sepedi, life sciences and English first additional language textbooks for its Grade 11s. According to the department’s invoices, Bessie Maake received 80 history books, three books for geography and three for life sciences.

Valdezia Higher ­Primary said it had not received any textbooks for natural sciences and technology for grades 5 and 6, and had no books for Grade 5 English. According to the department’s invoices, the school received enough English books for every student.

Laerskool Kruger Park said it had received no books. According to the department’s invoices, it received 280 Afrikaans books.

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