Court hears Limpopo textbook case

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Pretoria - The Limpopo education department has admitted that textbooks for certain subjects have not yet been delivered to 39 schools in the province.

Community-based organisation Basic Education for All (Befa) on Tuesday went back to the High Court in Pretoria to have the textbooks delivered and find a solution to the department's failures.

Befa also wants a court order which would see the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) policing the delivery of textbooks to the province's schools, but the SAHRC said it did not have the budget to police the delivery of every single textbook.

It would further seek a declaratory order that the non-delivery of textbooks violated the constitutional rights of pupils.

Adila Hassim, for Befa, on Tuesday told the court it was willing to accept the department's offer to deliver Caps curriculum textbooks for certain grades by May 8 and the rest by June 6.

This was despite the fact that Befa was not satisfied with the deadlines and would have preferred the delivery of all textbooks by the end of May as schools closed on June 27.

“The position is that we're at the mercy of the respondents. It is not for us to insist that it happens tomorrow,” she said.

Judge Neil Tuchten said it did not seem very useful to give orders in general and not deal with the situation at each off the 39 individual schools.

He urged the parties to first deal with the individual schools and thereafter argue the constitutional issues.

“The most important to me is to see that the children get their books... It seems to me you've come far enough without the need for the court's intervention,” he said.

Hassim said the numbers on Befa and the department's lists differed because the department counted the textbooks in its warehouse as “delivered” while Befa did not.

The judge ordered that the case stand down until later on Tuesday so that the parties could draw up a joint document setting out exactly which textbooks were short at which schools.

Civil rights group Section27 in 2012 obtained a court order to force education authorities to deliver all textbooks to Limpopo's schools but had to return to court twice because of the department's failure to comply with the order. - Sapa


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