Textbook supplier in damage control bid over fiasco at schools

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DIANNE HAWKER

As the textbook fiasco rages on and some pupils still await textbooks, the finger-pointing game continues, with the company at the centre of the storm claiming it was asked to cut back textbook orders by more than half.

EduSolutions says it was clear the Limpopo Department of Education had no money as far back as last July, yet schools were only told they would not receive their full orders in June this year.

In fact, EduSolutions – the publishing company that won millions in contracts – says it is bidding to deliver books in Gauteng and is taking the Basic Education Department to court for breach of contract because its tender was cancelled.

This week EduSolutions embarked on a charm offensive, hiring a PR company and inviting journalists to its Joburg offices in an effort to clear its name.

The meeting was attended by executive director for sales and marketing Thabo Mpama, financial director and company spokesman Moosa Ntimba and former director Themba Ndhlovu.

The group said it had cut the number of books at the request of the provincial department and later of administrator Anis Karodia and national education director-general Bobby Soobrayan.

Ntimba questioned why textbooks orders were only placed in June when the order had been reduced by February.

“The department did not sign off on the orders we had. Instead they made us keep cutting the order to fit a particular budget,” Ntimba said.

He said the company had warned the administration team orders needed to be placed immediately to avoid a delay in delivery.

Karodia recommended the cancellation, saying in a circular the delivery contract was “allocated to a private company (EduSolutions) at an exorbitant tender price that had compromised the department” and that “the company is under investigation and we are not allowed to procure from (it)”.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Karodia would only say he stood by his comments in a report which raised concerns about the price of the EduSolutions contract and a 47- page report to the National Council of Provinces.

Meanwhile, Education department spokeswoman Hope Mokgatlhe said that the department would soon be centralising the procurement of textbooks to avoid this year’s fiasco.

“On Tuesday we are meeting with publishers...We have given ourselves till end November to have the books to schools,” said Mokgatlhe


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