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There were conflicting reports on Wednesday on whether the department of basic education would meet its deadline for delivery of textbooks to Limpopo schools.
Rights organisation Section 27 said a mixed picture was emerging by late afternoon.
“We have been informed by the head of the intervention team in an SMS that delivery of textbooks for Grades R, One, Two and Three has been completed,” spokesman Mark Heywood said in a statement.
“However, at the same time we have received reports from some primary schools that they have still received no textbooks at all.”
The department of basic education was initially ordered to provide Limpopo schools with textbooks by June 15 in May.
The High Court in Pretoria in May ruled that the department's failure to provide textbooks violated the Constitution.
Section 27, which brought the application, held a meeting with the department after the first deadline expired, where it was decided that delivery of the textbooks should be completed by Wednesday.
Heywood said the organisation would “take whatever further steps are necessary” if the department failed to comply with the court order, in which Judge Jody Kollapen also ordered the department to devise a catch-up plan.
Section 27 did not have enough information to say whether the department would meet the target.
“While the progress reports we have received relating to Grade Ten textbooks reflect that the delivery is almost complete, we have reason to believe that some of these reports are not accurate.”
The principal of one school, which the department claimed had received 99.7 percent of its textbooks, told the organisation that no books had arrived.
“Despite many attempts, we have been unable to reach senior officials in the department today to obtain urgent updates as to the state of delivery.”
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga's spokeswoman Hope Mokgathle denied that officials were avoiding answering the rights group's questions..
“That cannot be true.”
Mokgathle said she was confident that all books would be delivered to schools by midnight and the department was monitoring the progress.
School principals were told to expect the deliveries, possibly outside normal working hours. Motshekga was eager to co-operate with Section 27 and wanted to set up another meeting with them, she said.
Earlier, Democratic Alliance education spokeswoman Desiree van der Walt said the department would not meet the deadline.
“A systemic problem in all schools with incomplete orders is that they are not receiving the maths and science books they need.”
Provincial DA spokesman Jamie Turkington said schools had not been notified that the textbooks would be delivered on Wednesday, and some were not prepared to receive them.
“In the Polokwane district, for instance, delivery trucks arrived at Tom Naude High School, but had to be turned away, because no one (at the school) was notified by the department that books were arriving.”
Director general of basic education Bobby Soobrayan said the process of delivering the textbooks was on track.
“Yesterday (Tuesday) books for Grades One to Three were distributed and today (Wednesday) we are working on Grade Ten.”
The department expected that some schools might need extra books if there were administrative errors in the numbers of pupils at each school.
To accommodate this, additional books were available, he said. - Sapa