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Another school book drama is playing itself out in the Eastern Cape where the DA says it has seen hundreds of boxes of books being returned because schools received books in Sotho instead of Xhosa.
Afrikaans- and English-speaking pupils had received workbooks in Xhosa.
Now the Basic Education Department and its provincial counterpart are squabbling about who is responsible for the blunder, with provincial officials saying the books in question are “workbooks” and that the province only deals with textbooks.
DA Eastern Cape education spokesman Edmund van Vuuren said an inspection of a department warehouse in the Port Elizabeth district had uncovered thousands of workbooks that had been returned by schools.
“This is due to the department’s botching of orders for workbooks for Eastern Cape children for the third and fourth quarter of the year, starting on July 16,” he said.
“The DA witnessed hundreds of boxes of books being returned to the warehouse because schools had received the wrong language for pupils.”
In many cases, the department had ordered Sotho workbooks for Xhosa pupils. Afrikaans- and English-speaking pupils had received Xhosa workbooks, Van Vuuren said.
A textbook explains work while a workbook requires pupils to fill in certain sections in the book, which is then returned to the teacher.
“A lack of consultation from the national department’s side and a chaotic workbook delivery process by the provincial department has led to hundreds of schools in the Port Elizabeth district alone being left without any literacy and numeracy workbooks for children in Grades R to 7,” Van Vuuren said.
Eastern Cape education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said the workbooks were released by the national department. “We handle textbooks.”
Department of Basic Education national spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said the Eastern Cape was shifting the blame, but the two departments would resolve the matter.
“I’m going into a discussion with them now to sort it out,” said Lesufi.
According to the department’s database for Port Elizabeth, 25 370 literacy workbooks and 15 500 numeracy workbooks were needed in the area, said Van Vuuren.
“The problem is province-wide, meaning tens of thousands more pupils in other districts are also affected. The books that have been ordered are only applicable for this year, meaning public money will also go to waste.”
Van Vuuren said the DA was calling for a full investigation into the ordering process that led to the problem.
This comes just a week after President Jacob Zuma ordered a ministerial task team to investigate what led to a six-month delay in the delivery of textbooks in Limpopo.