File picture of textbooks in a Limpopo warehouse.

The verification report into Limpopo’s textbook debacle, compiled by professor Mary Metcalfe and her team, has unearthed even more rot in the education department.

The report, which estimates that 280 schools in the province are still without the required textbooks, was released in Joburg on Monday.

The verification team sampled 411 schools – 10 percent of the total number of schools in the province. They could only get proof of delivery receipts from 93 percent of the schools sampled.

“For the remaining 7 percent, or 28 schools (mostly primary schools), no books were delivered…

“Extrapolating (from) the 10 percent sample, we estimate that learner and teacher support material have not been ordered for as many as 280 schools.”

The report found that on June 27, when the service provider database showed that books were delivered to 94 percent of the schools, only 15 percent had actually been delivered.

On July 3, when the service provider said 98 percent of books were in schools, only 48 percent of the books had been delivered at the time.

The team also found that up to 8 percent of the schools, especially those in isolated rural areas, had not been receiving study material in previous years.

“Some schools reported that they have not received textbooks for as many as four years and others have stopped expecting them.

“It appears that these schools very rarely see district or provincial officials at all – it appears as though some schools are seriously neglected as they are hard to reach.”

The report noted that it took long for books to arrive at schools in cases where textbooks had left the warehouse, the central point where they were stored.

At the warehouse itself, the books had started arriving only from June 7, with the last batch arriving on July 7.

The team counted 13 instances where it had taken between 16 to 18 days for books to arrive at schools after leaving the warehouse.

The shortest turnaround time recorded for the delivery of Grade 10 books was 2.8 days.

Mark Heywood, executive director for Section27, the NGO that hauled the department to court over the saga, said: “The department should have been aware of their cash-flow problems long before their budget was depleted and should have made provision for the purchase of books long before the end of the year.

“It is clear from this and other reports that the Limpopo Education Department is rotten.”

National Department of Basic Education spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said the department had initiated processes to ensure textbooks for next year were available when schools opened in January.

[email protected]

The Star