6 July 2012

South Africa: No Order for Limpopo Maths and Science Textbooks

press release

The head of the Limpopo verification team, Professor Mary Metcalfe, confirmed yesterday that the Department of Basic Education has still not ordered mathematics and science textbooks for grade 10 learners in Limpopo.

Metcalfe, appointed to assess the state of textbook delivery in Limpopo, revealed that the prescribed grade 10 CAPS mathematics and science textbooks did not form part of the order list in May.

Textbooks should have been ordered in September 2011 by the Provincial Education Department. They were not. The National Department of Basic Education took over the administration of provincial education on 5 December 2011. They did not put through orders until May 2012, five months after they took over and nine months after the period in which textbooks should have been ordered.

Yet, it appears that there have still been no orders for mathematics and science textbooks.

The explanation provided to Metcalfe was that mathematics and science textbooks developed at minimal cost by the Shuttleworth Foundation were delivered and that further textbook orders for these subjects were therefore not required.

This is highly problematic, as a reply to a parliamentary question I put to Minister Motshekga confirmed that the Shuttleworth textbooks were supposed to serve as supplementary textbooks to be provided in addition to books ordered from the National Catalogue.

If a decision has since been taken that the books developed by the Shuttleworth Foundation are sufficient to serve as the basic text for the mathematics and science curriculum, the Minister must confirm this and pave the way for millions to be saved going forward if maths and science books from the National Catalogue are no longer required. If not, learners in Limpopo should not be denied access to the primary texts for maths and science.

The Government cannot be allowed to take short-cuts and we hope that the assessment team is not being misled.

Annette Lovemore, Shadow Minister of Basic Education

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