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Thousands of textbooks destined for delivery to Limpopo schools are gathering dust in a Polokwane warehouse, despite a court deadline ordering that they be delivered to schools in the province.
The court order was handed down a month ago.
The textbooks were discovered by the DA on a visit to the warehouse this week.
“It is unthinkable that not even a court order can get the department (of basic education) to put textbooks in the hands of schoolchildren more than six months into the school year,” said DA Limpopo spokesman Langa Bodlani.
But Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga reacted with surprise to the reports of the incomplete delivery of textbooks for Grade 10 pupils in Limpopo.
In a statement, Motshekga said she was “taken aback by the delays by trusted service providers who vowed to deliver the books to Limpopo schools on time, (by June 15) as per a high court order issued last month.
“The situation is completely unacceptable. I have demanded a full report about reasons for this delay so that appropriate steps can be taken,” she said.
Motshekga said her office had been informed that the delivery of the textbooks had been completed, “and we have been acting in good faith based on the information, only to discover that the information in our possession is not factual”.
Last month, Section27 went to the Pretoria High Court, asking it to declare the government’s failure to deliver textbooks to children in Limpopo a violation of their constitutional right to education. The court ordered the books to be delivered by last Friday.
Bodlani said that while there was activity at the warehouse, the textbooks still needed to be delivered to the education districts before reaching schools. He added that the time it would take to do this final step would mean many schools would close on Friday before delivery could take place.
“Learners are likely to leave school on the last day of the term without the books they will need to catch up on lost learning time over the holidays,” he said.
Last week, Motshekga had said the department was on target to meet the court’s now-passed deadline.
Bodlani said he believed the department did not have a proper catch-up plan in place for pupils either. “Calls by the DA for the Limpopo education MEC to provide us with credible timetables and learning schedules for this plan have been met with silence,” he said.
The national department took over the running of the province’s education department in December because of maladministration. The department had more staff than was budgeted for, there was over-spending, and a shortage of textbooks and stationery for the 2012 school year.