Prof. Mary Metcalfe and the team assisting in the independent verification of the progress reports relating to delivery of textbooks to schools in Limpopo began work in Limpopo today.

Prof Metcalfe met with the MEC for Education, Dickson Masemola, and the DG of the Province, Ms Molepo-Modipa. The work that will be done by the team was explained and the MEC has pledged his full support to the process. The MEC welcomed the team to the province and has arranged for the team to meet all relevant senior officials of the Limpopo Department of Education at 7h30 tomorrow morning so that the work can begin.

DG Molepo-Modipa briefed Prof Metcalfe about the work that is planned by the task team established by the Provincial Executive Committee led by Premier Cassels Mothale. It was understood that the two processes have different terms of reference but both will contribute to the goal of understanding of how to avoid such a delay in the delivery of textbooks re-occurring in the future.

After meeting the Administrator of the Limpopo Department, Mr Mzwandile Matthews, the team them met with all stakeholders in a meeting chaired by Prof Tshilidzi Marwala. The meeting was attended by representatives of SADTU, NAPTOSA, PEU, SAOU, the National Association of School Governing Bodies, FEDSAS, the South African Principals Association and Section 27.

Prof Metcalfe gave an account of her brief, and the work the team will do in order to fulfill this brief in the given time-frames. There was a great deal of discussion and information sharing and many suggestions were made that will strengthen the process of verification. Stakeholders were requested to work within their constituencies to provide information about schools which do not have full delivery of books, or any instances of people feeling fearful of providing information.

The team will begin the verification process tomorrow. The team consists of qualified auditors, experienced education administrators with knowledge of textbook procurement processes, education researchers and persons who will contact schools and manage data.

The team will present a draft report to stakeholders on Thursday 12th July; to the DG and to Section 27 on Friday 13th July and a copy will be made available to MEC Masemola. Section 27 and the DBE will share the report to the public on Saturday 14th July. The report will include a verification/ variance report of the delivery of textbooks by school and by subject for a sample of schools and for those instances where information has been provided by stakeholders and the public. It will also provide an analysis of the process of providing textbooks in Limpopo in 2012, and recommendations.

Information from the public and from education officials will be essential to the success of this exercise. The team has briefed the DBE Help-Line officials and all schools which wish to report that they have not received their textbooks are requested to call in and provide information that can be included in the report. The DBE Helpline number is 0800202933.

An SMS line is being established that will make it possible for schools to report if textbooks have not been received and for subsequent progress to be monitored by SMS.

Mary Metcalfe, 082 3778787

July 4, 2012