The Basic Education Department must use law enforcement agencies to return Limpopo books that were delivered into the wrong hands.
This is a recommendation of the verification report by a task team led by Professor Mary Metcalfe. The team released its findings this week, after Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga appointed it early this month to probe the delay in the delivery of textbooks to Limpopo schools.
The department’s director-general, Bobby Soobrayan, said on June 27 that more than 90 percent of textbooks had been delivered to schools, but the report indicates that only 15 percent had been delivered to schools on that particular day. However, Metcalfe admitted that she was unable to make an accurate assessment of how many books had reached schools as yet.
“And, we are concerned about the number of schools that report that they do not have the correct books in quantity, in language or with categories missing.”
Basic Education Department spokesman Panyaza Lesufi disputed Metcalfe’s findings, saying 15 percent was inaccurate because Metcalfe’s sampling included “independent schools, private schools and higher education schools which did not offer grades 1, 2 and 3 – and that affected the findings”.
It is not clear how many textbooks were delivered to destinations they were not meant to go to, but several schools received textbooks that they had not ordered.
One such school was Ernest Matlou Primary in Bloodriver village outside Polokwane.
The report suggests that an investigation into the wrong deliveries must be instituted urgently. But first, it proposes that a public call should be made for the return of such “misplaced books”.
It reads in part: “This should have a short time frame (possibly during the first week of the school term), followed by the measures proposed by the administrator for the Department of Basic Education (i.e. law enforcement agencies to recover the textbooks as assets of the state).”
The report also raises concerns about textbooks that had left both the central and district warehouses, but still cannot be accounted for. The dilemma was compounded by the fact that service providers who had delivered the textbooks had not returned proof of delivery notes to the authorities.
“Given the volume of absent (proof of delivery notes) and the number of books relating to this, it is difficult to understand where these books may currently be… if indeed these books were delivered,” it said.
It said the audit team had concluded that there was still significant work that needed to be undertaken to confirm the outstanding proof of delivery notes.
The team also discovered that piles of textbooks from previous years still lay at districts’ warehouses.