DA seeks debate on textbook report

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IOL pic july4 limpopo textbooks Independent Newspapers Photo: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - A report on the late delivery of textbooks in Limpopo must be debated in the National Assembly so that people can be held responsible, the DA said on Monday.

“(Basic Education) Minister (Angie) Motshekga can use that opportunity to explain exactly how she will be implementing the recommendations of the report... and how responsible individuals will be held to account,” Democratic Alliance MP Annette Lovemore said in a statement.

The report, compiled by former education director general Mary Metcalfe, found that schools in the province still did not have textbooks. This was in violation of a court order against the department.

“It is not good enough for a national minister to absolve herself from delivery (as Minister Motshekga recently did) and shy away from firm commitments that her department will not allow this to happen again,” Lovemore said.

“We need an urgent, honest, open discussion on the situation in our schools, the steps taken to address persisting shortages and the proposed strategy from the national department... to ensure that we avoid similar disasters in the future.”

Legal non-governmental organisation Section27 said at the release of the report in Johannesburg on Monday that the department had not been completely honest when it claimed to have delivered 98 percent of books by its June 27 deadline.

“Professor Metcalfe's report shows that on 27 June, only 15 percent of books had been delivered to schools. By July 3 this had increased to 48 percent,” Section27 executive director Mark Heywood said.

“According to the report, by July 11, 22 percent of the sample schools were still awaiting textbooks.”

The report found that Section27 believed the department's figures should have reflected the receipt of books by schools.

The department said its figure of 98 percent actually represented the number of textbooks dispatched to warehouses for delivery.

Heywood said the “crisis” was not Motshekga's sole responsibility.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said it supported a call made by Section27 for the firing of Limpopo basic education MEC Dickson Masemola.

“The situation remains totally unacceptable and Cosatu expects that the other inquiries underway to get to the bottom of this scandal will continue to find the root causes, will recommend tough action against all those found to be responsible and that the government will act speedily to implement this hard-line approach,” spokesman Patrick Craven said in a statement.

Basic education spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said the department accepted the report and would work to implement its recommendations.

“We await further reports to make an accurate assessment on the matter. We are going to Limpopo to count each and every learner and teacher to ensure that this situation does not happen again,” he said.

“The Limpopo department has already initiated the process to ensure that textbooks for the 2013 school year are available when schools re-open in January.”

Section27 took the department to court to force it to deliver the books after some schools in the province had been without them for seven months.

The Metcalfe report was compiled in response to the department's assertion that 98 percent of the books had been delivered. - Sapa



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