MPs query Limpopo textbook delivery
MPs dispute the Department of Basic Education’s claims that 99% of textbooks have been delivered to Limpopo.
CAPE TOWN — MPs yesterday disputed the Department of Basic Education’s claims that 99% of textbooks had been delivered to Limpopo, saying the figure provided seemed to be contradicted by those furnished by others in the department as well as by the situation on the ground.
The department told MPs that provinces had reported more than 96% delivery of textbooks and stationery to schools, with Limpopo reporting 99% delivery. But earlier, Allan Subban, the department’s director of enhancement of programmes and evaluation of school performances had told MPs that the department was at a mere “over 90% in terms of provision” of textbooks in Limpopo.
However, the department also admitted that a total of 42,226 textbooks were still outstanding in the province, with the Waterberg district being the worst affected, as it faced a shortfall of 15,317 books. This is despite denying earlier this year that some schools in the province had not received textbooks.
The department has been hard pressed to deliver textbooks since it emerged last year that thousands of textbooks had not been delivered to Limpopo, potentially prejudicing pupils in a province saddled with a relatively low matric pass rate.
Last week the Democratic Alliance (DA) said an independent audit body was needed to investigate the delivery of textbooks to schools in Limpopo.
Briefing members of Parliament’s basic education portfolio committee on textbook delivery across SA for the 2013 school year, Mr Subban said the department was committed to ensuring that all schools received their full consignment of textbooks.
The department told MPs the latest national average of textbooks delivered to schools was 99%.
“Schools have been requested via a circular, to declare any further shortages. This will be verified against the evidence of deliveries made and remedied where necessary. Principals will be held accountable for submitting incorrect information,” Mr Subban said.
He told MPs that some of the challenges faced in the delivery of textbooks included “adverse weather conditions” which had caused the destruction of about 20 bridges in Limpopo. This had made some schools inaccessible by road.
He said a final analysis to reconcile the total textbook provisioning for each school would be completed on Friday.
African National Congress MP Zondi Makhubela questioned the systems used to verify whether Limpopo schools had really received their textbooks. “We need a reliable system. To what extent can the system be trusted ... if you say 99% delivery, to what extent should we trust the figure?”
Azanian People’s Organisation MP Jacob Dikobo said during an oversight visit to Limpopo recently, MPs had seen a “different story”.
“Learners share textbooks ... the reports we get are different ... we should be worried when it seems there is a deliberate misleading of Parliament,” he said.
The DA’s Annette Lovemore said there was a general consensus in the house that the department’s figures were “difficult to trust”.
Acting deputy director-general Hubert Mweli sought to explain the discrepancies to the MPs, saying it was impossible to achieve a 100% delivery rate. Some of the “confusion” arose because teachers and learners had not received textbooks of their choice, and the shortages were not restricted to Limpopo, but occurred in all provinces, he said.
To what extent can the system be trusted ... if you say 99% delivery, to what extent should we trust the figure?