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Parliament - The delivery of school textbooks for use next year is on track and running smoothly, the basic education department assured MPs on Tuesday.
“We are... feeling very comfortable there has been sufficient progress that has been made to ensure that, come the start of academic year 2014, we will not be challenged with the delivery of textbooks and workbooks,” said acting deputy director general Suren Govender.
Briefing members of Parliament's basic education portfolio committee on the provision of learning and teaching materials to schools, he said the sector had set the end of this month as its delivery deadline.
This allowed it next month (November) to “mop up” any outstanding problems.
“So, as a sector, there is no way we would want to go past November in respect of the delivery of texts. Which will allow us December, and the early part of January - if there are any unforeseen circumstances - to be able to resolve (any final problems),” Govender said.
His colleague, senior basic education official Allan Subban, presented the committee with a report on progress - as at Thursday last week - on the delivery of textbooks to schools.
The figures presented were for the delivery of books for grades seven to nine, as well as grade 12, which are implementing the new curriculum and assessment policy statement (CAPS) from next year.
Grades one to six and grades 10 and 11 are already operating the new system, and require only “top-up” learning and support material.
According to the report, in seven of the nine provinces, publishers have almost completed their deliveries of textbooks to distribution warehouses.
The two exceptions are the Western Cape, which does not use a warehouse procurement model, and KwaZulu-Natal, where only 59 percent of textbooks have been delivered.
“In KwaZulu-Natal, they started a little late, but will be completed by mid-November,” Subban said.
On the delivery of textbooks directly to schools Ä some schools in some provinces use this particular procurement model Ä only four of five provinces were at less than 90 percent completion.
Of these, the Free State was at 38 percent. Subban said this had to do with publishers delivering the books late, but these deliveries would be completed by November 15.
Another problem province was KwaZulu-Natal, where only 53 percent of deliveries to schools were complete. Subban said the department had obtained assurances that these would be completed by the end of November.
He further assured the committee that the department was confident of achieving its target of a textbook for every pupil in every grade.
Provincial education departments were monitoring the situation.
“Provincial education departments are monitoring what exactly is a school ordering against the learner numbers.”
On the matter of so-called top-ups Ä the delivery of books required by grades one to six and grades 10 and 11 Ä he said the department would have a clearer picture early next year.
Requirements in this regard were affected by fluctuating school enrolment figures.
Responding to a question, he told MPs there would be no shortage of funds for the purchase of such textbooks.
“Even where schools are short of budget, then budgets from the outer year will be provided to those schools,” he said.
Also responding to committee members' questions, Govender stressed that the department was not facing any serious problems when it came to delivery of textbooks.
“Currently, we do not anticipate any red flags, or any serious challenges or threats,” he said.