Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga must come to Parliament at the first opportunity to account for the ongoing textbook crisis in Limpopo. Most importantly, she must tell the nation what she will do to ensure that the textbook shortage does not recur in 2013 and beyond.
The Metcalfe Commission report on the late delivery of textbooks in Limpopo indicates that the Department is still in violation of the court order to deliver textbooks in that province and that the crisis is likely to recur in 2013. Critically, this investigation dealt with only a 10% sample of schools and only in one province. All indications are that shortages of textbooks and workbooks are likely to be more widespread.
I will be requesting that the Metcalfe Report be debated in the National Assembly. Minister Motshekga can use that opportunity to explain exactly how she will be implementing the recommendations of the report, when we can expect results from the Presidential and Provincial Commissions of Inquiry into the crisis and how responsible individuals will be held to account.
It is also critically important for the Minister to explain why her Department initially chose to cover up the textbook backlogs. The Metcalfe Report indicates that the Department misrepresented figures on its compliance with the court order by quoting numbers for delivery to regional warehouses rather than to schools in the province.
It is not good enough for a national Minister to absolve herself from delivery (as Minister Motshekga recently did) and shy away from firm commitments that her department will not allow this to happen again.
We need an urgent, honest, open discussion on the situation in our schools, the steps taken to address persisting shortages and the proposed strategy from the National Department of Basic Education to ensure that we avoid similar disasters in the future.
Rather than mouthing platitudes it is time for Minister Motshekga to step up to the plate.
Annette Lovemore, Shadow Minister of Basic Education