Dept Clarifies No Textbook Claims

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has clarified insinuations that there are schools which have not received textbooks.

According to media reports, some schools in Limpopo say that between them they still need 18 000 books. The case, initiated by lobby group Basic Education for All, through civil rights organisation Section27, is due to be heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The parties want the court to rule that the Basic Education Department must provide all outstanding books by 7 April.

“It is untrue that schools have not received textbooks. More than 6.5 million have been delivered in 2014 and an additional 306 000 have been ordered to address reported shortages,” the department said in a statement on Monday.

The majority of the 18 000 books alleged to be shortages are actually books from previous years, which schools were supposed to retrieve from learners at the end of the school year.

“We acknowledge that there are schools that have reported shortages in February and orders have been made and delivered. We are taken aback by the alleged shortages as it is unusual to have shortages once deliveries have been made on appropriately reported shortages of textbooks.

“It is surprising to learn that the same organisation that applauded the Limpopo Education Department and DBE for the successful procurement and delivery of books is the same organisation that has now turned to the courts,” the department said.

This NGO, the department said, had earlier this year undertaken to inform the public that they would work with the departments in resolving all issues regarding textbooks.

The department said the NGO had now elected to work with some School Governing Bodies (SGBs) to approach the courts on the same matters they said they would cooperate with the department on.

For the record, the department said, some of the SGBs have not even reported these shortages to the authorities in Limpopo or DBE.

“The evidence at our disposal has revealed that the shortages reported are not even books that are in the catalogue.

It appears that the majority of the 39 schools listed in the court appears did not check or verify the deliveries of textbooks against the orders placed. They belatedly only did so after the aent of the 2014 school year during 2014,” the department said.

The department said there had been opportunities for the schools to report the shortages to the Limpopo Department of Education. Workshops were held and attended by the representatives of the schools, where they were informed about the process to be followed in the event of shortages.

The department has taken extra ordinary steps to ensure that books are delivered on time and that any reported shortages are addressed. This includes holding a series of meetings with school principals in November and December 2013.

The meetings were called to engage school principals on how to deal with textbooks procurement, shortages and all other matters regarding textbooks.

“In those meetings nothing came up on the issues raised in the court papers that we have received. We are left with no option but to suspect that there is a nefarious agenda at play,” the department said.

The department said it continues to welcome reports of shortages and would deal with the matter immediately.

– SAnews.gov.za

Source : SAnews.gov.za