No update on textbook situation - NGO

Johannesburg - Textbook shortages are continuing in Limpopo and no official update on the progress of their distribution has been given, law NGO Section 27 said Thursday.

"As things stand today, 26th July, we have no information from the Department of Basic Education as to the completion of the delivery of text books and we receive continued reports from school principals of shortages," said Section 27 executive director Mark Heywood in a statement.

Heywood noted that the department had informed the public and Section 27 that 98% of the text books had been delivered to schools on June 27.

This turned out to be incorrect after an investigation led by Mary Metcalfe, agreed to by both the department and Section 27, found that only 15% of the textbooks had been delivered and 22% of schools had received no books at all.

Basic Education spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi could not be reached by Sapa for comment as he was in a meeting.

‘Situation could be repeated’

Heywood said there were 5 297 schools in Limpopo and about 1.7 million pupils.

"All these learners, except those in former model C schools, are being affected by the failure of the Department of Basic Education to provide learners and teachers with the necessary learning and teaching materials," Heywood said.

He added that the textbook shortage could continue into the next school term as the provincial department had spent its book budget for 2012/13 for this year. This may make it difficult to purchase books for grades four through nine, grade 11 and grade 12.

"Unless this issue is resolved there is a danger that this travesty may be repeated in the 2013 school year," Heywood said.

‘National dept responsible’

Heywood also accused the national department of blaming provincial officials for the textbook shortage.

He agreed that the lack of books was not the fault of the national department but was now their responsibility.

"Once the national department intervened... they assumed full responsibility for resolving it. They still hold that responsibility," Heywood said.
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