Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s “catch-up” plan for Limpopo schools to recover lost time after non-delivery of textbooks was a disgrace, the Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday.
“(Motshekga) is placing sole responsibility for the education of these children in the hands of the children themselves. This is a disgrace,” DA MP Annette Lovemore said in a statement.
The department was unavailable for comment.
In May, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that the department's failure to provide textbooks violated the Constitution. The application was brought by rights organisation Section 27.
Judge Jody Kollapen ordered the department to devise a catch-up plan to remedy the consequences of the delay, and to supply the affected schools with textbooks by June 15.
The department failed to meet the court's deadline, but Motshekga said her department had met with Section 27 and agreed to move the deadline to June 27.
Lovemore said the province's pupils were six months behind their peers in other provinces as a result of the chaos in the Limpopo education system.
“Despite this, Minister Motshekga’s department is suggesting that these children should be brought up to speed by reading study guides during the winter school holidays.”
She said Motshekga already failed to comply with the court order to have all textbooks delivered to Limpopo by June 15, and by not providing an appropriate catch-up plan she had again violated this order.
“Minister Motshekga has sought to place responsibility for the crisis in Limpopo at the door of the provincial administration. However, given that the national department is now in control, she is responsible for how this crisis is resolved.”
The most serious problems Lovemore had with the catch-up plan were that it dealt only with Grade 10 students. It also consisted of only two paragraphs, which said pupils would be provided with subject guides for self-study during the winter holiday.
There would also be no face-to-face interaction between pupils and teachers during the catch-up period, because teachers would be receiving training at the time, she said.
“In addition, the curriculum comparison that accompanies the catch-up plan is intended to show that similarities between this and previous years’ curricula mean that previous years’ textbooks could have been used to teach learners this year.”
She said Motshekga was trying to show in the absence of new textbooks that Limpopo pupils were not as disadvantaged as it seemed.
“This raises serious questions about why previous years’ books were dumped and burned, if the education department itself is now trying to argue that they were still of use.”
Earlier on Tuesday the DA said it would ask Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate the burning and shredding of textbooks in Limpopo over the weekend.
“Today we will begin donating crates of books in perfect condition to schools who need them in Seshego, the township where government was destroying the books,” the party said in a statement.
Non-governmental organisation Equal Education (EE) on Tuesday said Motshekga failed to file her answering affidavit, despite it granting her two extensions.
EE spokesman Doron Isaacs said in a statement Legal Resources Centre, which represents EE, wrote to the State attorney on June 21 to inform him it would not grant another extension.
The Legal Resources Centre also approached the Registrar of the Bhisho High Court and applied for a date on the opposed roll.
“The court case cannot be delayed indefinitely and EE does not wish the matter to be delayed any further.”
The organisation's application for an order forcing Motshekga to prescribe minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure was filed in the Bhisho High Court on March 2.
After numerous requests for extensions it was no longer willing to postpone the matter.
“The Minister's failure to meet the deadlines shows a disregard for EE's application, and the legal process that has been initiated. It is also suggests that she does not understand the urgency with which the matter of school infrastructure needs to be addressed.” - Sapa