DEPARTMENT OF BASIC EDUCATION TAKEN TO COURT ONCE MORE OVER LIMPOPO TEXTBOOKS
Today SECTION27, Hanyani Thomo Secondary School and Tondani Lydia Masiphephethu, represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, again approached the North Gauteng High Court in relation to the failure by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to deliver textbooks to Limpopo schools for 2012.
This application follows the DBE’s failure to comply with two earlier court orders:
- On 17 May 2012, Judge Kollapen in the North Gauteng High Court ordered the DBE to complete the delivery of textbooks by no later than 15 June 2012. He also ordered the DBE to put in place a catch-up plan for Grade 10 learners to close the gaps in their syllabus caused by the failure to deliver textbooks for half of the school year.
- After the DBE’s failure to comply with the deadline of 5 June, a further court order was granted confirming the parties’ agreement that textbook delivery would be completed by 27 June 2012. This agreement also records the DBE’s undertaking to include extra tuition time for learners and content knowledge support for teachers as part of the catch-up plan.
The DBE claims that textbook delivery is complete. However, SECTION27 continues to receive reports from schools across Limpopo that they are still waiting for textbooks. Some schools in the province have still received no textbooks at all. While it is clear that the DBE has failed to complete the delivery of textbooks to schools, we do not know precisely which schools are still awaiting textbooks. It is essential that the DBE takes urgent steps to find out.
The catch-up plan developed by the DBE fails to address the harm done to Grade 10 learners who have not had access to textbooks this year. It does not include details of extra tuition time for learners, nor does it mention support for teachers. The catch-up plan also shifts the responsibility for catch-up away from the DBE and on to individual schools, many of which are severely under-resourced. The DBE must take responsibility for addressing the harm it has caused.
Given the crisis that arose in relation to textbook procurement for 2012, SECTION27 is concerned about the process for procuring textbooks for 2013. This crisis cannot be repeated next year.
Today’s court application is for an order directing the DBE to do the following:
- Conduct a full verification process as to which schools have received their textbooks and which schools are still waiting;
- Complete the delivery of textbooks to Limpopo schools for the 2012 school year by 31 October 2012;
- Deliver textbooks to schools for 2013 by no later than 9 January 2013, and provide monthly reports to the court and the applicants on the progress in procurement and delivery of textbooks for next year;
- Develop a catch-up plan for Grade 10 learners which includes extra tuition time for learners and content knowledge support for teachers, and run this programme for next year’s Grade 11 learners until 30 November 2013; and
- Develop a programme to ‘catch-up’ learners who are currently in the foundation phase, and run this programme until 30 November 2013.
The DBE assumed direct responsibility for the obligations of the Limpopo Department of Education when it intervened in terms of section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution on 5 December 2011. The DBE is required in terms of the Constitution to take urgent steps to restore minimum standards of service delivery. Nine months after its intervention, however, the education crisis in Limpopo continues to deepen.
We are also still awaiting the report by the Presidential Task Team appointed to investigate the textbook crisis in Limpopo. SECTION27 hopes that this report will be made public and that all of those officials found by the Task Team to be responsible for the textbook crisis will be held accountable.
For more information contact Mark Heywood on 083 634 8806 or Nikki Stein on 082 528 7232.