On 21 June 2012, representatives of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and SECTION27 met to try to resolve the ongoing challenge of availability of textbooks to learners in Limpopo and compliance with the court order of Judge Kollapen, which was delivered on 17 May 2012. The parties reached a settlement agreement which included the following undertakings:
- That all textbooks would be delivered to all schools by or on Wednesday 27th June.
- The DBE would provide SECTION27 with written updates of the progress of the delivery on Saturday June 23; Monday June 25; and Tuesday June 26.
- That an official DBE circular would be issued on Friday 22nd June to all school principals informing them of this and requesting them to make arrangements with learners to return to school on Thursday 28th June to collect their textbooks. This will ensure that learners are able to study over the coming school holidays.
- That the ‘catch-up plan’ ordered by the North Gauteng High Court is essential in order to remedy the disadvantage that has accrued to the teachers and learners and that the plan will involve extra tuition and support to both learners and teachers. The details of the plan will be developed by the DBE with input from SECTION27. As required by the court order, the DBE will report to the court on the implementation of the plan.
- That we will maintain open channels of communication on all the above, but also seek to work constructively together in the interests of good governance of schools and quality education.
On 28 June 2012, the DBE sent a report on the progress in the delivery of textbooks, indicating that 99% of textbooks had been delivered to Grade 10 learners and that all textbooks have been delivered to Grades 1, 2 and 3.
Both the DBE and SECTION27 are concerned about reports that books may not have reached all schools and want to encourage everyone with information in this regard to report shortages of textbooks so that this can be investigated and corrected where necessary.
The parties are also concerned that the information in the progress reports provided to the DBE and forwarded to SECTION27 may not be accurate.
The parties have agreed to appoint a jointly agreed independent competent capacity to do an audit and evaluation of deliveries.
An independent verification of the progress reports relating to delivery of textbooks to schools is essential, both in assessing the state of delivery of the current textbooks, and in ensuring that the crisis is averted in years to come.
The parties have also reiterated their commitment to an effective and meaningful catch-up plan, which includes extra tuition time for learners and content knowledge support for educators.
The DBE has approached the Nelson Mandela Foundation to convene an education summit between the Minister of Basic Education and all NGOs and education sector-based organisations to go through issues related to quality education.
DBE: Panyaza Lesufi on 071 148 9575
SECTION27: Mark Heywood on 083 634 8806 or Nikki Stein on 082 528 7232.