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Johannesburg - The Department of Basic Education is using the Post Office to test the state’s capacity to deliver textbooks to schools.
Speaking at a media briefing hosted by the Publishers’ Association of South Africa (Pasa) in Joburg on Monday, department spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said the department had used the Post Office for textbook deliveries in Limpopo and the Northern Cape for the 2014 academic year.
“We are checking whether the Post Office has the capacity to assist us to eliminate the problems we’ve had all along…
“For now, with Limpopo and the Northern Cape, we can give the Post Office a thumbs-up because we believe they’ve done well,” Lesufi said.
Pasa chairman Mandla Balisa said the association, whose member publishers are responsible for supplying 90 percent of all learners’ and teachers’ support materials used in schools, had delivered all the textbooks that were ordered from it.
Pasa delivers the study material to a central warehouse, and from there it’s the department’s responsibility to ensure that schools receive the books they have ordered.
“It’s one thing for Pasa to print and deliver the textbooks to our warehouse. It’s another thing to take the textbooks from the warehouse to schools,” Lesufi said, adding it was in this leg of the delivery process that glitches occurred and high costs were incurred.
He said the fact that all textbooks were centrally procured by the provincial departments of education instead of the individual schools, and that schools selected textbooks from a standardised catalogue, had ironed out problems and improved delivery across all provinces.
“Where are we as the department? We are at 99 percent (delivered)… We are now waiting for the new learners who are being enrolled to then finalise the clean-up.”
Lesufi said the department would finalise this process by the end of this month if registration was concluded by the end of this week.
“But if registration continues into the following week, it’s going to give us a headache,” he said.
The provinces where delivery of textbooks had gone fairly smoothly were Limpopo and Eastern Cape.
“They are followed (closely) by the Western Cape and Gauteng. The only provinces still hovering around 90 percent are KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State.
Lesufi said that ultimately it was up to the provincial departments to decide how they would have their materials delivered.