Schools in Limpopo had received textbooks by Thursday but not the required amounts or specified books, the SA Principals' Association said.
“Some schools received all the textbooks they required and some just received books for the sake of receiving,” said the association's deputy president Ngoako Rapaledi.
“Delivery is delivery yes - but delivery of what? I was given 100 Sepedi books to be shared by over 600 learners.”
The basic education department said about 99 percent of textbooks have been delivered and claims that some schools still waiting for books were a “source of concern”.
The Democratic Alliance, which was closely monitoring the delivery, said pupils in Limpopo were deprived of their constitutional right to learn, read and acquire knowledge.
“The DA's activists on the ground have identified more than 129 schools in Limpopo that either did not receive any books, received the wrong books or didn't receive enough books by last night,” spokesman Mmusi Maimane said in a statement.
“This is only from the limited sample of schools we were able to visit. The chaos is likely to affect hundreds of others as well. But the real deadline was seven months ago, not yesterday.”
Rapaledi said teachers in the area were now encouraged to think of new ways to help pupils.
“We need to find a way to help the learners. Schools might have to borrow books to and from each other to help learners,” he said.
Human rights group Women and Men Against Child Abuse said educational neglect was also a form of child abuse.
“Educational neglect can lead to the child failing to acquire basic life skills, dropping out of school or continually displaying disruptive behaviour,” spokeswoman Vincentia Dlamini-Ngobese said in a statement.
“We are appalled that our government continues to fail in providing effective education for our children through bad policy, poor planning, and cadre deployment with no system of performance contracts...”
The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) in North West said it was disturbed by the continuous appointment of “incompetent people” by the department of education at a national level.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said the textbook crisis had rendered the future of pupils into “tatters”.
Numsa said the department should stop using private contractors to produce textbooks because the government had the capacity to produce the required textbooks.
The department of basic education was initially ordered in May to provide Limpopo schools with textbooks by June 15.
The High Court in Pretoria ruled in May that the department's failure to provide textbooks violated the Constitution.
Section 27, which brought the application, met the department after the first deadline expired, and it was decided that delivery of the textbooks be completed by Wednesday.
The education department said it has a catch-up plan which includes a winter programme for Grade 12 pupils and Saturday classes. Other grades would have their own plans, depending which textbooks they did not get.
The national department took over the running of Limpopo's education department in December following maladministration by the provincial department. - Sapa