Dept refuses to take blame for textbook crisis

The Dept of Basic Education has blamed a system malfunction for the late delivery of textbooks.

FILE: The Department of Basic Education has blamed a system malfunction for the late delivery of textbooks in more than 30 Limpopo schools. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - More than 30 schools in Limpopo will know today if the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria will grant an urgent orde r compelling the Department of Basic Education to deliver outstanding textbooks to their premises.

Pupils are still waiting for workbooks for this academic year despite claims by education officials that over six million books have been delivered throughout the province.

Lobby group Basic Education for All (Befa),which took the department to court, wants all outstanding learning material to be delivered by the end of May.

The group also wants an order giving the South African Human Rights Commission the power to police delivery.

But the education department's Elijah Mhlanga says shortages have not affected teaching and learning.

"This notion that learning and teaching isn't happening is false because teaching is taking place. The textbook isn't the only item you need to learn and teach. The previous textbooks are still usable."

The department has blamed a system malfunction for the late delivery of textbooks.

Mhlanga has denied allegations that the department has neglected its constitutional mandate by failing to deliver textbooks on time.

"The system isn't perfect yet and we shouldn't be blamed for that because we are working on something new which has in fact fixed the previous challenges."

Mhlanga refused to apologise to pupils who have been affected by this year's textbook shortage.

"We know there are shortages and we know the reason for the shortages and we have put in place a system to address those shortages and if that's not taking responsibility then I don't know what is."

Befa says while the non-delivery of outstanding books is not a violation of the constitutional rights of pupils, it's a major inconvenience.

The department has agreed to provide textbooks to these schools by 6 June, but Befa says that's too late.

In December 2011, the Limpopo Department of Education was placed under administration after it failed to manage its budget.

In June 2012, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was asked to explain why a large number of textbooks were destroyed in the province, despite shortages.