Johannesburg - EduSolutions has defended its contract with the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE), claiming it has “a proven track record of 99 percent on time delivery” of study material in Gauteng.

Last week, The Star reported that more than 50 principals from section 21 schools that fall under the Joburg North district were called into a meeting at Bosmont Primary School and told they would receive extra money if they buy their books from EduSolutions.

The school principals were told that they would all receive R120 000 over and above their usual grants to buy study material and they only had 24 hours to place the orders.

Section 21 schools are fee-paying schools that receive funding from the department and buy their own Learner Teacher Support Material.

Section 20 schools get their study material from the department and in Gauteng the department has contracted EduSolutions to provide study material.

Following the story, other suppliers contacted The Star, saying similar instructions had been given to schools from Randfontein to Carletonville, Westonaria, Krugersdorp, Roodepoort and Alberton.

One book supplier said a similar meeting had been held in Pretoria and attended by about 100 principals and officials responsible for learner-support materials.

“They were also told that if they do not order their textbooks from EduSolutions, they will forfeit the contribution from the Gauteng Department of Education.”

The school then contacted the book supplier, with whom he said they had enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship, to say they could not do business with him again.

“This effectively threatens me and my fellow supplier companies with the sustainability of our business – which has been operating in this area since 2004,” the supplier claimed.

GDE spokesman Charles Phahlane said the meetings and circular instructions were nothing more than a bid to ensure that all Gauteng schools had exactly what they needed in terms of textbooks and other learning material before the start of the next academic year.

He said schools had delayed putting through their book order lists because there was a funding shortfall. The department intervened to ensure all schools had put their orders in.

EduSolutions executive director Moosa Ntimba said the funds made available to these schools were from a conditional grant that falls under the service provider’s mandate.

“All projects funded by conditional grants fall within EduSolutions’ mandate that emanates from the contract with the provincial department of education,” he said.

He said schools were given a short time to put through their orders because part of the emergency management plan was to ensure orders were processed and delivered before the start of the December holidays.

In a response to questions by DA Education spokesman Khume Ramulifho, Education MEC Barbara Creecy revealed that dating back from the 2008/ 2009 financial year to 2010/11, the service provider had received more than R130 million for its contract with the department.

The Star