21 February 2017

South Africa: Basic Education Committee Briefed On School Readiness

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The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education today heard that workbooks for 2017 have been delivered to more than 99% of schools across the country.This includes the delivery of Grade R workbooks.

The Department of Basic Education said in a presentation to the Committee that the 2016/17 budget for Learner Teacher Support Material, including textbooks and stationary, amounted to over R495 million. It also indicated that top-up textbooks have been delivered to most schools across the country.

However, the Committee noted that in some provinces, such as the Eastern Cape, only 42% of the required top-up textbooks have been delivered. The Committee heard that this delay was due to an assessment directive by the newly appointed Head of Department for Education in that province. It appears that 288 schools did not submit their orders for processing and an additional order will be created for those schools as well as schools with shortages.

Committee Member Mr Gavin Davis said it is unacceptable that there are still outstanding top-up textbooks. He criticised the Department for being unable to supply the figures for learners who have still not be placed in schools in KwaZulu-Natal and North West. The Department is waiting for provinces to provide these figures.

The Committee also heard that all provinces prioritised the procurement of Grade 12 FET Literature textbooks for 2017. Small problems in the Eastern Cape were encountered, 97% delivered, and the Free State, 95% delivered.

Another Committee Member, Mr Derick Mnguni, was not convinced by the figures provided for furniture delivered to schools, as he said he is aware of schools without furniture.

Regarding the situation in the Vuwani area of Limpopo, the Committee heard that all schools received stationary, although there are still shortages and non-delivery in certain subjects. Promotional posts have been filled and substitute teacher posts are filled as they arise. Disruptions at the beginning of the school year were noted in some areas and everything possible was done to ensure the situation does not get out of control.

Acting Committee Chairperson Ms Pinky Mokoto wanted to know how many new hostels are being built for learners in light of the rationalisation of school to do away with small or non-viable schools. As the Department did not have this information available, she said this and other unanswered questions must be responded to in writing.

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