6 May 2014

South Africa: Court Rules on Limpopo Textbooks

The High Court in Pretoria ruled that the basic education department violated pupils' rights to education by failing to deliver textbooks in Limpopo, City Press reported online on Tuesday.

Delivering judgment in the Limpopo textbooks case, Judge Neil Tuchten said the department had violated pupils' rights to education by failing to ensure that all of them had all their textbooks before the beginning of the school year.

Last month, Basic Education For All (Befa) took the department to court, supported by civil rights group Section27, because not all pupils in Limpopo had received their textbooks for this year.

The department promised to deliver textbooks it failed to deliver since 2012 by June 6 and Befa and Section27 had asked for a court order to this effect.

City Press reported that Tuchten refused to grant the order, only noting it.

It quoted Befa's Tebogo Sephakgamela as saying: "I hope the department will now comply with their own promise."

Department spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said the department would "work hard" to meet the deadline.

SABC news reported that the basic education department would pay the costs.

Befa had also wanted the SA Human Rights Commission to oversee the process of textbook delivery, and for the court to declare the non-delivery of textbooks a violation of the constitutional right of pupils to basic education.

Chris Erasmus SC, for the department, previously argued that only about 2.2 percent of the seven million textbooks had not been delivered because the schools reported shortages late or failed to report it at all.

The top-up books were not ordered in time due to budgetary constraints, as the province had a R293 million shortfall in its education budget, he said.

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