No textbooks for pupils on first day of school in Eastern Cape

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Fundile Gade said the province encountered serious budgetary challenges when the orders when placed. Photo: Archive
Fundile Gade said the province encountered serious budgetary challenges when the orders when placed. Photo: Archive

NEWS


The DA in the Eastern Cape wants the Human Rights Commission to intervene in the shortages of textbooks for pupils.

This after it became clear on Wednesday that not all pupils would not have textbooks on their first day of school because these were not delivered on time because the provincial education department did not have the money to pay for supplies.

The department said some pupils will only have their study materials next month.

On Wednesday Yusuf Cassim, DA’s provincial spokesperson on education, said pupils at 4 703 out of 5 451 public schools in the province started the school year without textbooks because it had not yet received the Learner Teacher Support Material.

“The DA will be referring the matter to the Human Rights Commission as textbooks are crucial in fulfilling a pupils’ constitutional right to education and the department’s failure to budget appropriately and place orders on time has resulted in a callous and unnecessary deprivation of this right,” Cassim said.

He said:

It was clear last year already that LTSM deliveries would be delayed, as orders were not placed on time.

He called on the commission to act urgently to compel the department to fulfil the rights of pupils. Cassim said the department must be forced to reverse the drastic budget cuts and procure the relevant study materials.

The department had significantly cut per pupil subsidies, while the budgets were also drastically cut, making it impossible for the schools to place orders for the textbooks and materials required, he said.

“I have submitted detailed questions to the Education MEC, [Fundile Gade], regarding the ongoing lack of LTSM, including textbooks, stationery and pupil and teacher furniture.”

Gade said the province encountered serious budgetary challenges when the orders when placed.

He said working with the department of basic education, the provincial Treasury and the premier’s office, a minimum resource pack per pupil on stationery was agreed on in line with the reduced budget.

“All these were meant to determine both financial and other support needed to take the province out of the [financial] challenge. All Grades R to 9 have workbooks for all subjects. We are prioritising new schools, the extension of curriculum, new grades and Grade 12,” Gade said.

READ: Provinces to fork out millions to fix storm-damaged schools

The reduction of the allocation of below the national target of R1 544 per pupil had a negative impact. The teaching and learning data provision to the teachers and pupils for virtual classes, accruals from previous years amounting to R370 million was another factor the department had to deal with.

The MEC said the department had to reconsider the resourcing strategy so it could engage the school community on the new normal. In 2016, the province procured LTSM for R1 billion and the lifespan for textbooks was five years.

“Therefore, there are textbooks in schools with a return/retrieval rate of 98% and any procurement of textbooks will be a top up,” he said.

“For a number of years, the department has been using a manual order system to procure the LTSM which is in direct contradiction with the Public Finance Management Act.” Gade said:

This year we requested the department of basic education and the Treasury to allocate additional funds from the budget appropriation period. An amount of R255 million was approved late last month.

There were not enough classrooms to accommodate all the pupils, Gade said, adding that the huge classroom backlog in 5 321 schools had been exacerbated by the need to comply with the Covid-19 social distancing restrictions.

He also said the department had submitted a tender to the Amatola Water Board in November last year for the supply of water to various schools on an ad hoc basis for three years. The department was also in a process of appointing contractors to install 600 water tanks at 300 schools by March. At least 150 toilets would also be built, he said.


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Lubabalo Ngcukana 

Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
lubabalo.ngcukana@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
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