Some KZN schools might not have textbooks when school opens on Wednesday

Durban - Teacher's unions have expressed dissatisfaction with how the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education was handling the supply of textbook to schools.
With days to go to the reopening of schools on Wednesday some schools are yet to receive their textbooks and the unions were concerned that it would hamper learning.

Both the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and the National Teachers Union (Natu) were doubtful that the department was ready for the start of the school year.

They claimed that there was confusion about who was going to buy the books needed by some Section 21 schools (schools that manage their own finances, former Model C).

Sadtu provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said the department had taken the responsibility from the schools for sourcing textbooks but it had not delivered as expected.

“We are waiting until Monday (tomorrow) to get an update on the textbook situation."

“When schools closed last year, it was not clear whether the department had deposited money into accounts for the schools to buy the textbooks themselves.

“This may cause a setback when schools reopen - there have been cases in past years where some schools received textbooks as late as March,” said Caluza.

She added: “We have proposed to the department that the responsibility to buy textbooks be given to all the schools, including Section 20 (rural and township) schools.”

Allan Thomson, Natu’s deputy president, said they had visited schools as part of a readiness check.

“Most of the Section 21 schools had not received textbooks or money to buy them. As a result, we requested an urgent meeting with the MEC for Education to obtain clarity on the issue.

“What the department intended to do was against the Schools Act, which stated that all schools, including Section 21s, should handle the purchase of textbooks but now they have failed to deliver the books on time,” said Thomson.

He added that there were a number of other unresolved issues from last year which could disrupt teaching and learning.

“A number of Grade R teachers still have not received their 2016 salary adjustments They were supposed to be paid a lump sum, backdated to April 2016. The department promised to pay them by December. We also have problems with teachers who were removed from their posts but were not yet re-posted,” he said.

Department of Education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said they had some administrative problems with Section 21 schools over the purchase of books.

“We were not satisfied with some documents they submitted. As a result, the process was interrupted.

“But we are confident that by Wednesday all of the issues will be resolved,” he said.

Mlotshwa said all schools had been supplied with textbooks despite the minor issue with Section 21 schools.