Parliament, Cape Town -
A series of poignant letters from Limpopo school children to President Jacob Zuma was read out in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
“We need more educators... we need more books because the learners are suffering. Now, at my school, things are not okay because the learners and teachers are crying,” one pupil wrote.
Another letter writer called for better security and school transport.
“Dear President, we need safety at our school because people who are not attending (here) come to steal our computers. We need more transport to our school because other students come to our school in wet clothes on rainy days, and they end up not concentrating because they feel cold.”
Yet another called on Zuma to speak to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga about the textbook delivery disaster that struck their province.
“Dear Mr President, please will you communicate with the (education) minister about our educational textbooks because we are short of them at our school.”
The same pupil also called for more teachers “so we may be able to study and (be) able to become what we want in life”.
The unedited letter ends: “Lastly, can you please send our school some money so we can get more resources, so that we can learn hard and also practice our talents.”
Democratic Alliance MPs read out the letters, using the time allocated to them for statements in the National Assembly.
Responding, Deputy Basic Education Minister Enver Surty appeared moved by the pupils' appeals.
“Let me unequivocally convey my heartfelt apologies to those learners in Limpopo for the late delivery of textbooks. We neither wish to defend it nor condone it.”
“Let me also take heart and empathise with those learners who have written these... eloquent letters to the president. At least we can take comfort from the fact that they are literate and have a good command of the language,” he said.
He vowed that his department's failure to deliver textbooks on time would not happen again.
“We have learnt some hard lessons... and, indeed, the appropriate and necessary steps are being taken to ensure that never again do we repeat or let this failure to deliver textbooks in time return.
“What has occurred in Limpopo was not correct, we cannot condone it... and certainly we are going to learn lessons from it and ensure it does not repeat itself,” said Surty.
His remarks come as calls continue for Motshekga to resign over the Limpopo textbook debacle. - Sapa