Minister interdicted over textbooks

2012-05-25 20:00

Johannesburg - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was interdicted on Friday from finalising a national catalogue for accounting textbooks.

Judge Jan Hiemstra granted the urgent order in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

Motshekga's department has been prohibited from finalising the catalogue, pending the outcome of a review application by textbook publisher New Generation Publishing Enterprises cc.

New Generation would now seek a court order setting aside the department's decision to disqualify its Grade 11 accounting textbooks in English.

The books were disqualified because the publisher's name was accidentally contained in a copyright clause on the front page.

New Generation manager Razia Aziz said in court papers that the department's reasons were "high handed", unreasonable, and deprived pupils of the publisher's high quality and popular accounting textbooks.

The Afrikaans version, which did not contain the name of the publisher, was conditionally approved for inclusion in the catalogue.

The English version was not even considered.

Even the department accepted that anonymity was not absolute, as ISBN numbers unique to each publisher appeared on the books.

The department should either have deleted the three offending words on the cover page, or should have given the publisher the chance to do so before it was submitted to the department's screening committee, he said.

He also accused the department of giving unreasonable time frames for the submission of material. Many publishers had inadvertently breached some of the technical requirements in the frantic rush to submit material.

The court heard that the disqualification of the accounting textbooks had serious implications for the future viability of New Generation's business.

Counsel for the publisher Tayob Nazeer Aboobaker SC argued that New Generation was not a "lone voice", but that many other publishers had experienced the same "shocking state of affairs" where people in the department made decisions without understanding the larger implications.

The department seemed to be on a "massive nit-picking exercise" designed to frustrate and ultimately destroy the publishing industry in South Africa.

It had itself accepted that submissions were not really anonymous, he said.

The department opposed the application, saying publishers had been aware of, and never objected to the anonymity rule, and should have complied with it.

Judge Hiemstra said he accepted New Generation's contention that it had inadvertently contravened the anonymity rule.

The rationale behind the anonymity rule was not in issue. It was to prevent members of the screening committee from being influenced and to reduce the possibility of bias and corruption.

In this case, however, the department had a discretion to condone non-compliance with the anonymity requirement where the contravention was not deliberate and there was a public interest at stake.

New Generation's accounting textbooks had been approved in previous years and had been a standard textbook for many grades for many years.

If it was not included in the catalogue, learners and teachers would be deprived of this highly regarded textbook, of which the Afrikaans version received a 90% rating.

"I accept that it is an excellent textbook which, had it not been for the disqualification, would have been included in the catalogue," he said.

The judge said it would not take the department long to review the textbook or to include it in the catalogue, if the publisher's review application succeeded.

  • Scouter - 2012-05-25 21:12

    I cannot help but notice that when an article appears on this site that actually requires reading and due consideration, comment is lacking ....

      Michael - 2012-05-25 22:17

      You are wise beyond words. I apologize for my ignorance. I read the first few paragraphs,and after waking up, with a keyboard imprinted on my face, drool running down my chin filling the space between the keys did I realize, I just don't give a cr@p. Lets go read my Cat in the hat whilst swinging from the ceiling fan rather. Before I did that, I skipped down to the comments section hoping to stumble on a piece of wisdom, a pearl in fact. And golly gosh, I found you, the comment guru, mr awesome, mister diligence! Forgive us mere mortals, who choose to read what interests us, and not long winded articles that go around in circles and take forever to make its points. You sir, are the reason bad journalists have jobs, and for that we say "good on ya mate"

      Michael - 2012-05-25 22:27

      Hey, I realized i could read three sentences before bashing my head on the keyboard. After one whole day, i finally bashed my way through this article. That gives me hope, as I have a A) found a way to sleep B) made scouters day, and therefore please the comment guru. C) Made dents in my forehead so that now I look like something out of star trek D)Feel more qualified to comment. E) Realized I don't know the alphabet anymore. elp me guru of all things commenty! F) I am sick of reading of incompetent fools, thugs and criminals who cannot read themselves, and how they are destroying SA. One govt dept at a time. If plain stupidity was a sport, we would win a million golds at the Olympics. JZ leading from the front, our flag bearer, father of the nation(Literally)

      anthony.weineck - 2012-05-26 07:13

      Hey Michael, the article is 543 words long, not War and Peace. The fact that you, and people like you, are functionally illiterate is exactly what Scouter is complaining about. Unlike most News24 articles, this one actually had a bit of meat in it, which was a pleasant surprise. Overall, don't complain just because the news doesn't fit into nice little palatable portions of information for you to swallow without any effort.

  • Sharon - 2012-05-25 21:14

    The children depend on these incompetent fools. While they squabble, the children are left to suffer. Surely they had enough time to sort this out! We are going from the blind to the ridiculous.

      Scouter - 2012-05-25 21:20

      The truth is Sharon ... 'the incompetent fools' don't give a damn and in fact encourage a mindless generation - easy to gather their collective vote, come the day,

  • Nicolaas - 2012-05-25 22:21

    I see now, they wanted anonymity to later claim that the accounting material were develope by Zoomer!

  • Graham - 2012-05-26 07:52

    Maybe the backhanded wasn't big enough!

  • George - 2012-05-26 08:52

    The educations agenda of the cANCerous society is very simple; keep them dumb, lest they acquire knowledge to see true depth of their enslavement. In this regard Auntie Angie is a resounding success. Time to use the taxpayers money and "challenge" the decision in the Constitutional Court where Moegoe sits. Ke will know what to do to restore Angies dignity at this terrible affront.

  • anthro45 - 2012-05-26 12:20

    The book is to difficult for them to understand. Rather give them "Boet en Saartjie" to study in matric. Maybe, just maybe they will pass.

  • Gerald Jordaan - 2012-05-26 13:45

    The minister for POST & TEL should also be interdicted for being an incompetent nincompoop..letting post boxes and then claiming...WE HAVE NO LOCKS!!!!!!

  • brian.zeelie - 2012-06-02 09:54

    Fire this idiot of a minister she is a disgrace and playing with the future of the learners, i don't where the Anc gets ministers and mec's from must be from the stupid tree.

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