20 February 2013

South Africa: DA Wants Textbook Roundtable Within 48

press release

The DA has challenged Education Department spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi to a public roundtable discussion in Polokwane on textbook delivery.

The DA wrote to Mr Lesufi this morning giving him 48 hours to respond to the request.

Mr Lesufi has spent the last two weeks downplaying textbook shortages to the media.

During that time Mr Lesufi's story has changed from "literally all schools have received books" (12 February), to "there are 2-3% of schools with shortages" (13 February), to "80% of the textbook shortage problem has been addressed" (18 February).

The time for talk is over. Every day that passes without books affects the ability of Limpopo children to learn.

It is clear that the Education Department has no idea what the true extent of textbook shortages are in schools.

There also does not appear to be a plan to get credible information on the true shortages or a deadline to ensure that all schools have books this year.

Mr Lesufi must confirm within 48 hours that he will come to Polokwane to discuss the facts about textbook shortages. He must also provide concrete solutions to immediately address the shortages.

So far the following facts confirm widespread book shortages in Limpopo:

  • Four warehouses full of textbooks discovered by the DA across four education districts
  • The chaotic delivery of books to these warehouses suggesting the Department is dumping books without knowledge of the actual shortages
  • The confirmation by the Federation of School Governing Bodies of South Africa (FEDSAS) that many schools are experiencing shortages
  • The confirmation by SADTU of shortages in schools
  • The telephonic surveys of schools across Limpopo that have verified shortages
  • The outrage from Limpopo principals at being called liars for saying there are shortages in their schools

Education is the only way out of poverty for the majority of children in Limpopo. It is not good enough for the Department to say that "at least the textbook situation is better than last year", as Mr Lesufi has repeatedly claimed on radio.

Nothing less than 100% of books delivered this year will be acceptable. The DA achieves this where we govern and we expect nothing less from ANC-governed provinces.

Desiree van der Walt, DA Limpopo Legislature Caucus Leader

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