An investigation by the Democratic Alliance (DA) has revealed that the school textbook crisis is deepening and now includes three provinces. This is despite assurances by the Department of Basic Education (DBE).
The DA has demanded that Minister Angie Motshekga intervene in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape. Failure to intervene now will stunt the educational development of learners in these provinces.
Discussions with the Publisher’s Association of South Africa (PASA) and meetings with provincial departments have revealed that:
The Limpopo Education Department has still not placed any orders for textbooks. Publishers have not been briefed on the Limpopo situation and have no idea when this order will come.
Books are only likely to be delivered to learners in Limpopo between 2 – 6 weeks after an order is placed. Learners could wait for books even longer if publishers are not adequately prepared for the order.
Mpumalanga has abandoned the new curriculum altogether and has failed to order any textbooks to address major shortages.
Section 21 schools in the Eastern Cape (schools purchasing textbooks directly from publishers) have so far spent just R 104 million out of a R 607 million budget allocated by the provincial department.
On Thursday a spokesperson for the DBE, Panyaza Losufi, stated that the situation is under control in these three provinces, with books to be delivered to learners shortly.
This is however, difficult to believe. Only workbooks that are merely supplementary to the core curriculum textbooks will be delivered in Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
While books will arrive for some schools in the Eastern Cape in the next 1 – 2 weeks, learners in the majority of the over 3 000 Section 21 schools in the province are going to experience major textbook shortages.
In Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape, inadequate accountability on the part of provincial departments and schools has caused the crisis. In fact, the only province able to fully deliver to its students was the the Western Cape.