AS Textbook shortages continue in Limpopo, no official update on the progress of their distribution has been given, said law NGO Section27 yesterday.

“As things stand, we have no information from the Department of Basic Education as to the completion of the delivery of textbooks and we receive continued reports from school principals of shortages,” said Section27 executive director Mark Heywood, who noted that the department had informed the public and Section27 on June 27 that 98 percent of the textbooks had been delivered.

This turned out to be incorrect after an investigation led by Mary Metcalfe, agreed to by both the department and Section27, found that only 15 percent of the textbooks had been delivered and 22 percent of schools had received no books at all.

Basic Education spokesman Panyaza Lesufi could not be reached for comment.

Heywood said there were 5 297 schools in Limpopo and about 1.7 million pupils.

“All these learners, except those in former model C schools, are being affected by the failure of the Department of Basic Education to provide learners and teachers with the necessary learning and teaching materials,” he said.

He added that the textbook shortage could continue into the next school term as the provincial department had spent its book budget for 2012/13 this year. This might make it difficult to purchase books for grades 4 to 9 as well as grades 11 and 12.

“Unless this issue is resolved, there is a danger that this travesty may be repeated in the 2013 school year,” Heywood said.

He also accused the national department of blaming provincial officials for the textbook shortage, but once they had intervened, “they assumed full responsibility for resolving it”. – Sapa