By: Gabi Khumalo
Pretoria: The Department of Basic Education has given the Democratic Alliance until close of business on Friday to retract, apologise to the nation and withdraw the statement made that schools in Limpopo had not received textbooks.
“We are indeed baffled and taken aback by the behaviour and conduct of the DA on this particular issue. We believe they were wrongly advised and took a wrong advice to publish this information that was wrong and we request them to withdraw it,” said Basic Education spokesperson, Panyaza Lesufi.
Lesufi maintained that all schools had received the books and there were no schools disputing that they had not received books.
“The only things the schools are disputing are shortages in certain subjects and that’s where we are,” said Lesufi, adding that 3 percent of the complaints were about the shortage of books.
He said the department was using a company called UTI to help them deliver the textbooks.
Lesufi noted that the department had made drastic improvements compared to last year, where during the same period, not a single school in Limpopo had received books.
He said that this year, they were only dealing with claims of overstock or under stock.
The department called a media briefing on Monday to show documents confirming the delivery of textbooks in the provincial schools. This follows a letter written by the DA claiming that the provincial schools were still without textbooks.
This follows after Duiwelskloof Primary School principal informed parents that the school had not received workbooks to enable educators to implement the new curriculum.
However, the documents handed over by the department to the media contained a list of all the textbooks delivered, where and when and the quantity delivered.
While the DA indicated that the school only received books written in English not Afrikaans, according to the document signed by the school principal and has the school stamped to acknowledge the receipt of Afrikaans books on 16 November 2012.
Lesufi emphasised that when a school, which followed protocol if there are any shortages in the school, the department normally responds within 48 hours.
“It’s unfair to the department and to learners,” he said, adding that the provincial department did take into consideration the hard work that these institutions have been doing.”
Explaining the reasons behind the overstocking of books this year, Lesufi said the department wanted to avoid delaying learners to wait for books for unreasonable periods.
“Last year we had to go to Botswana to Swaziland to look for books because books were out of stock in the country. This year, to avoid us going outside the country to look for books, we overstocked those particular books. So when a school says they’ve got a shortage we don’t have to fly to Botswana to buy a book, we can have it on our warehouse and give it to that particular school,” he explained.
Department’s Acting Deputy Director-General: Curriculum, Policy Support and Monitoring, Hubert Mathanzima Mweli acknowledged the issue of wrong quantity and wrong language does happen hence the department used the 10 days of reopening of schools to mop up.
The mop up period is used to allow school principals to verify whether they have the right quantities and language.
“When we receive that we are able to immediately respond to the information that would have been fed,” Mweli noted adding that all issues regarding shortages and wrong languages were addressed during the mop up and we should have heard at the time about shortages.
Lesufi warned that failure by DA to apologise or retract it statement, the department will approach the constituency based institutions, portfolio committee or parliament.
“We have asked the provincial Human Resources to investigate the matter [of school principal] and advise on appropriate action that needs to be taken,” Lesufi said.