Human rights body slammed over Limpopo textbook issue
THE BASIC Education Department has taken issue with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for communicating a deadline “through the media” to deliver school textbooks in Limpopo and will ask the commission for a meeting to discuss the matter.
The department had noted with disappointment the media statement issued by the SAHRC, it said in a statement yesterday.
“It is extremely unfortunate that the commission has chosen to communicate with the Minister of Basic Education (Angie Motshekga) through a media statement instead of engaging the department directly. The commission could have benefited immensely from factual correctness and other crucial information related to the matter had it consulted with the department or the Limpopo Education Department,” the department said.
On Friday, the commission said the Limpopo Education Department should deliver all outstanding school textbooks by today. The commission also demanded that Motshekga make a formal commitment to ensure all textbooks were delivered by this Thursday.
“The SAHRC regards the non-compliance by the Department of Basic Education and the consequent non-delivery of textbooks in a very serious light,” the commission said in a statement.
The two departments had not established the controls required to ensure that school pupils received textbooks before the start of the school year, the SAHRC said.
In its statement yesterday, the department said it had always co-operated with the commission and considered it an important institution for the advancement of the constitution.
“It came as a shock to read via the media that the minister had been given a deadline to make an undertaking about a task which the province was already handling. It is, therefore, unclear what the motive is for communicating with the department via the media.”
The department would request a meeting with the commission to discuss the matter.
“The delays relate only to stationery and not textbooks. The Limpopo Education Department has since issued a media statement to provide an explanation for the delays, which are linked to procurement processes. Since 2012, more than R2 billion has been spent on the provisioning of learner-teacher material in Limpopo. Every year, the department delivers supplementary material to augment what has already been delivered to schools.
“The provincial Education Department is not delivering new sets of textbooks, but only top-ups to certain schools where shortages were reported as a result of lost textbooks or an increase in learner enrolment.” – ANA