New curriculum but no textbooks for Limpopo schools - DA

Annette Lovemore says in grades implementing new syllabus it's not possible to use old books

Textbook Crises: DA meets school representatives

Today I visited Limpopo to speak to representatives from secondary schools in the province about the challenges they face in having to educate learners without textbooks. This is the first in what will be a series of visits across the country to assess the state of basic education and the extent of the textbook crisis in our schools. 

A new curriculum for Grades R, 1, 2, 3 and 10 has been introduced in 2012 and is prescriptive and textbook dependent. In Limpopo, the major concern is the fact that textbooks for the new curriculum have not been ordered, five months into the new school year. In grades implementing the new curriculum, it is not possible to use last year's textbooks.

I visited Serutle High School and Tubake Senior Secondary School, both in Lepelle Nkumpi Municipality, Limpopo, accompanied by the Provincial Leader Desiree van der Walt and Provincial Spokesperson, Langa Bodlani.

In these schools, educators and principles have expressed enormous frustration at the fact that textbooks have not yet been delivered five months into the school year. At Serutle High School, educators indicated that the standard of the Grade 10 exams will likely be lowered this year to allow students to pass more easily - given the absence of textbooks needed for preparation. Publishers came to the school last year with promotional textbooks, and left them at the school. These are the only textbooks that teachers are using, since no textbooks have been delivered.  Teachers were forced to make copies of the promotional copies which were full of gaps and errors. 

At Tubake Senior Secondary, teachers are drawing together material from workbooks and last years old textbooks in an attempt to reflect the new syllabus. With a pass rate of 36% in 2011, these teachers are concerned that their attempts may be fruitless in preparing students to meet the requirements of exams and improve the pass rate.

Democratic Alliance (DA) representatives in the Province have made numerous attempts to spur the Department of Education in Limpopo to action. These include the following: 

  • In January this year, we wrote to the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, to determine whether she has a contingency plan in place to ensure the timeous delivery of textbooks in the province.
  • We have written to the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan to request intervention by the treasury - as the Limpopo Department of Education is one of the departments that have been placed under administration.
  • We made a submission to the South African Human Rights Commission (HRC) to request an investigation into failure by the Limpopo Department of Education to deliver textbooks to learners.
  • Yesterday, we met with the Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) for Education in Limpopo to discuss the lack of textbooks for learners in Limpopo. The MEC blamed it on insufficient funding from the National Department of Education.

These attempts have been fruitless. We have had no responses from the National Department of Education to our queries around how the crisis will be resolved. 

I will today be writing to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee for Basic Education, Mrs Hope Helene Malgas, to call Minister Motshekga to the Committee to present a turnaround strategy to address textbook shortages. 

The right to basic education is enshrined in the Constitution.  It is the responsibility of this government to ensure that the necessary supporting mechanisms are in place for full access to education to be achieved.

The lack of textbooks in Limpopo is an effective denial of this constitutional right. 

Statement issued by Annette Lovemore MP, DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education, May 16 2012

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