Disappointment over textbook claims

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textbooks feb 7 Independent Newspapers File photo

Johannesburg - Limpopo's education department on Thursday expressed disappointment with “false claims” that undelivered textbooks were found in a warehouse in Fetakgomo.

“The department wishes to set the record straight,” department spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said in a statement.

“The contents in the boxes are not textbooks but manuals and workbooks used previously by the province. They are being stored at the Fetakgomo teacher training college as they were left over from specific deliveries made in the past.”

He said the department had no contract with Edu Solutions to deliver textbooks in Limpopo.

Earlier, the Democratic Alliance said it had found “thousands” of undelivered textbooks during a routine oversight visit to a teachers' training college in Fetakgomo.

DA spokeswoman Desiree van der Walt said security guards prevented the party's delegation from completing its oversight visit, but photographs of the books were taken.

“This is shocking given that schools have had to drag the Limpopo education department to court to get books delivered,” she said.

“We have identified at least 47 schools without all the textbooks they need. And now we are discovering warehouses still filled with undelivered textbooks.”

Mhlanga said the matter was being investigated and he would comment further when the facts were established.

On Monday, he dismissed allegations that some schools in Limpopo had not received textbooks.

More than 6.5 million textbooks had been delivered in 2014 and including an additional 406 000 which was ordered to address shortages.

“We acknowledge that there are schools that have reported shortages in February and orders have been made and delivered.”

A further 387 000 textbooks were ordered on March 20 after reported shortages, he said.

Most of the 18 000 books alleged to be short were the textbooks the schools were supposed to get back from pupils at the end of the year.

He said most of the schools involved had failed to check or verify the deliveries of textbooks against the orders placed.

“They only did so after the advent of the 2014 school year.”

He said the department had taken steps to ensure that books were delivered on time and that any reported shortages were addressed.

Meanwhile in Gauteng, an application against the department was temporarily struck off the Pretoria High Court roll.

“The judge encouraged the parties to reach an agreement outside court because the department had put in place systems to address all the matters regarding the delivery of textbooks in Limpopo,” Mhlanga said.

If an agreement was not reached the matter would return to court on April 22 for argument, he said.

“The applicants also told court that the department had addressed the issues they had raised as part of their court action.”

Law centre Section27 launched an urgent application against the Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and the Limpopo department of education in May 2012 for failure to procure and deliver textbooks for pupils throughout Limpopo.

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