South Africa: Motshekga Denies Textbook Accountability

Books

Johannesburg — Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Friday denied accountability in the Limpopo textbook saga where schools in the province were without books for the first seven months of the school year in 2012.

"It [delivering textbooks] is an administrative function and it has nothing to do with me as a minister," she told a The New Age business briefing in Johannesburg.

"Basically, the problem lies with the administration and not the political office... The problem lies in the province... It is a provincial problem."

She said investigations were underway to see which officials were responsible for the textbooks not being delivered.

On January 8, the department said at least 98 percent of textbooks had be delivered to inland schools ahead of the first day of school.

Speaking on the court decision to halt the closure of 17 schools in the Western Cape -- she said the department understood there were procedures to follow and they lost the court case because they did not follow those procedures.

"There is a procedure for school closures and we have to consult and there is a reason we have to consult -- so that communities can prepare themselves for alternatives," she said.

"On principal, where schools are not viable they have to be closed. But there are legal procedures that have to be followed. We lost the case because of our failure to follow the legal procedures..."

In October, Western Cape education MEC Donald Grant announced that 20 schools -- later 18 -- would be closed because of dwindling pupil numbers and multi-grade teaching.

In December, the Western Cape High Court granted 17 of the schools an urgent interdict halting the closures.

Mothsekga said there was nothing wrong with closing schools and the department would follow procedures if they saw a school should be closed.

She told the business breakfast that progress was made in education but there were still challenges. Decisions made in recent years had been the right ones.

"This [2012 matric results] is good news that the tide has turned but we are not seeing the results we need to see as yet.... There is still a long way to go."

On January 2, Motshekga announced that the matric pass rate in South Africa improved in 2012 with 73.9 percent of grade 12s passing their final exams.

This was an improvement on the 70.2 percent pass rate in 2011.

She told the business breakfast that in 2013 the department would continue to focus on the priorities and that the main priority was to sustain the results.

Of the 623,897 who wrote the NSC exams in 2012, over 136,000 pupils achieved results that qualified them to go to university. Another 135,000 got results that would allow them to attend other higher education institutions.

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InFocus

South Africa's Textbook Deception?

The basic education department has been accused of lying about the delivery of textbooks to schools in the Limpopo province. They yesterday confirmed that all school in that ... Read more »