Nepotism in schools’ book choices?

2008-05-21 00:00

An author has accused KwaZulu-Natal senior Education Department officials of corruption in the requisitioning of school books for the 2009 academic year.

Mlindeli Gcumisa, author of Zulu drama book Awuwelwa Umgeni, teachers are being forced to requisition only books published by certain publishing houses or books written by authors who are the officials’ friends and relatives.

He said this is especially true in the case of Zulu literature. “I have been told by teachers who originally selected my book that they have been instructed by a senior employee to exclude books published certain publishing houses. And that includes my book.”

Gcumisa said his understanding of the requisition process is that it starts at national level.

Once the books have been officially approved, a catalogue with a list of all approved books is sent to each province to be distributed by district subject advisers.

However, Gcumisa said subject advisers in many parts of the province are forcing teachers to choose books of their choice.

This is allegedly under the instruction of a senior department official, whose name is known to The Witness. “There is no doubt that bribes exchanged hands for this to happen.”

Gcumisa has written to the department, but has not received a response.

Department spokeswoman Mbali Thusi said the department is not aware of the allegation, but will investigate.

According to Thusi, for the first time, schools can choose from three different book titles, under different genres such as literature, drama and short stories. This is why subject advisers have been consulted at a greater level this year.

She said schools are advised to choose a title that best fits the curriculum and the pupils’ needs in the school, but the decision lies with teachers and management.

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