South Africa: Before We Debate Changes to Sex Education, Let's Ask Why the State Is Writing Its Own Textbooks


The Department of Basic Education has announced plans to write and publish its own school textbooks to save costs and combat shortages in schools. This may seem like a good idea but it will, in fact, have a negative impact on teachers, school children and the economy.

One of the many challenges that schools face is the shortage of textbooks. Since the introduction of the CAPS curriculum, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has spent billions on textbooks for schools. Despite the large sums of money allocated to textbook purchases each year, schools continue to suffer from shortages.

There are five main reasons for these shortages:

Schools do not have effective book-retention plans in place. This makes it difficult for some schools to retrieve books at the end of the year.

Underprivileged schools and the communities they serve do not have the money to replace books that are damaged or lost during the year.

Schools do not always have accurate enrolment data for the next year when it is time to order textbooks. This results in shortages when actual enrolment figures are larger than the orders placed. Learner migration also affects the ability to accurately project enrolments.

Schools face several...

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