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SAHRC concludes textbook saga investigation

SAHRC found that poor financial management by principals was one of the reasons for the textbook shortages.

FILE: A photograph taken by DA leader in Limpopo, Desiree van der Walt, shows boxes abandoned in a hall, apparently full of undelivered textbooks on 3 April, 2014. Picture:Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has found that poor financial management by principals in schools across the country was one of the main reasons for the shortage of textbooks.

Two lobby groups have taken government to court on two occasions after the Department of Basic Education failed to deliver textbooks at schools in Limpopo on time.

The SAHRC will present its findings to the department soon.

The commission has concluded a year-long investigation into the shortages and found poor projection of demand and delayed procurement and payments of textbooks are the contributing factors.

Commissioner Lindiwe Mokate said one of the biggest challenges affecting almost all nine provinces related to budget management.

"In most provinces, the amount allocated to schools for the procurement of learning materials was consumed by the payment of staff salaries."

Mokate said principals at many schools did not physically verify whether textbooks had in fact been delivered.

The SAHRC recommended disciplinary measures be taken against these principals in order to increase levels of accountability.

The commission also found vast disparities in how departments in each of the nine provinces dealt with the shortages.

It recommended the delivery system be standardised to avoid future shortages.

The SAHRC also suggested that an independent audit be undertaken.