31 July 2012

South Africa: Limpopo Catch-Up Plan Ignores Textbook Crisis

press release

The Department of Basic Education's (DBE) academic catch-up plan for Limpopo learners downplays the impact of textbook delivery failures and has an over-reliance on study-guides as a substitute for additional tuition.

Yesterday, the DBE provided the first report on the academic catch-up plan for Limpopo schools aimed at mitigating the impact of the textbook crisis on Limpopo learners. The Gauteng High Court ordered the Department to report on the catch-up plan by 30 July.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and her department continue to downplay the significance of textbooks and abdicate responsibility for the problem.

Minister Motshekga has repeatedly argued that similarities between the previous year's National Curriculum Statement, and this year's National Curriculum and Assessment Policy (CAPS) Statement mean that previous year's textbooks could have been used to teach learners this year.

This is completely disingenuous. The DBE's own analysis shows that there are significant content changes and additions, especially in core subjects such as mathematics and physical science.

The catch-up plan's limited provision for extra tuition is not merely a violation of the court ordered settlement agreement but suggests a complete disregard for the disadvantage that has accrued to learners due to government incompetence relating to textbook delivery.

A 'catch-up plan' focused merely on the delivery of study guides places primary responsibility for the education of our children in the hands of the children themselves.

This is not acceptable. The ruling of the North Gauteng High Court in May confirmed that the Education Department's failure to provide textbooks is a violation of learners' right to education. Why should learners, who have been denied access to basic educational support, play the lead role in cleaning up the Department's mess?

I will be writing to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, Hope Malgas, to urgently request that the Limpopo catch-up plan be tabled in parliament and discussed in the committee.

In a recent education workshop, I was informed that an assessment was carried out on the impact of the lack of textbooks on learning and teaching in Limpopo. I will be asking the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee to confirm whether a report on the assessment was produced, and if so, for it to be tabled and discussed in committee.

If the measures to get learners up to speed are not urgently addressed it will not be our children that are failing in the education system, it will be the education system failing our children.

Annette Lovemore, Shadow Minister of Basic Education

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