“We haven’t finished delivering textbooks” – Soobryan

Johannesburg – About 99% of textbooks have been delivered to Grade 10 learners in Limpopo with all textbooks delivered to Grades 1, 2 and 3, says the Department of Basic Education’s Director-General, Bobby Soobryan.

Giving an update on the delivery of textbooks to schools in Limpopo which took place on Wednesday, Soobryan said as early as 11.30am yesterday, 97% of Grade 10 textbooks were delivered from the central warehouse, and all of the Grades 1 to 3 textbooks were delivered to the UTI warehouse.

“As early as 4pm on the same day, reports came from all the districts’ warehouses, with the exception of the warehouse in Thohoyandou, Vhembe, indicating the complete delivery of textbooks from these warehouses,” Soobryan said on Thursday.

He said the main cause for delays in Thohoyandou was that the contracted companies did not pitch up to receive their consignments, despite several calls reminding them to do so.

Some principals were also reported to have refused to come to their respective schools to receive the delivered textbooks.

The department reiterated that except for Grades 1 to 3 and Grade 10, all other Grades received textbooks in January. Grades 1 to 3 received workbooks and the delays were in the supplementary material.

In a joint statement, the department and Section 27 – a rights organisation that seeks to influence, develop and use the law to protect, promote and advance human rights – agreed to jointly appoint an independent entity to do an audit and evaluation of deliveries, as well as conduct an independent verification of the progress reports on the delivery of textbooks to schools. This would help to avert a similar crisis in future.

To assist learners who have fallen behind in their work, a catch-up programme has been started which involves teacher training and extra tuition for Grade 10 learners.

Executive Director of Section 27, Mark Heywood, said he acknowledged the department’s co-operation in the matter, despite missing several deadlines.

“We accept the … necessity of this intervention but once this step is taken, the national government is required to assume responsibility for ensuring the minimum standard of service delivery and uphold the right to basic education.”

Heywood added that the delay in the delivery of textbooks must be publicly investigated by the department and those responsible must be held accountable.

Meanwhile, the department has approached the Nelson Mandela Foundation to convene an education summit between the Minister of Basic Education and all NGOs and education sector-based organisations to get through issues related to quality education. – BuaNews