15 February 2013

South Africa: Textbook Statement Won't Be Retracted

press release

The Democratic Alliance will not be retracting its statement that there are textbook shortages in Limpopo schools.

The Education Department gave the DA until Friday for the retraction but we believe that conclusive proof is available that shortages exist province-wide.

The DA has discovered that the Limpopo Education Department is scrambling to address textbook shortages in schools while at the same time denying that there are shortages.

The DA is in possession of a letter confirming that textbook shortages are widespread. The letter was sent by the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS) Provincial Manager to schools across Limpopo districts on Monday.

In the letter, schools with shortages are told to collect books from district warehouses on a "first-come-first serve" basis. Schools should then provide "updates" on whether the "situation changes".

This shows that shortages do, in fact, exist across the province. The "first-come-first-serve" instruction also reveals that the demand for textbooks is greater than the supply.

Two warehouses in the Thoyohandou and Giyani districts visited by the DA yesterday were stacked full of thousands of books, presumably awaiting collection from schools.

The situation at these warehouses appeared chaotic.

The delivery checklists confirmed that the books only arrived two days ago. Managers approached by the DA at both warehouses had no idea of why the books had been sent and what needed to be done with them.

Some books were not even intended for the Mopani and Giyani districts, as photos of boxes marked "Vhembe district" show.

The deliveries to district warehouses took place just after the DA's surprise visit to the central Polokwane warehouse on Friday.

We witnessed trucks frantically loading books, apparently after the Department got word of the DA's intended visit.

It is increasingly undeniable that there are severe shortages in many schools across Limpopo. The Department's claim that 97% of books have been delivered is false.

The DA is receiving calls from angry principals across the province outraged at the Education Department for labelling them liars after they highlighted the shortages in their schools.

The Education Department must be straight with the public, schools and learners. The DA will continue to monitor the situation and apply the appropriate pressue until every learner in Limpopo has a textbook for every core subject in their grade

Jacques Smalle, DA Leader in Limpopo

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