'We are watching you‚' lawyers tell government on textbooks for 2017
Can 2017 be the year when government manages to deliver textbooks to schools on time?
The Legal Resources Centre intends to do its part to ensure this is so.
The Supreme Court of Appeal ruled in 2015 that it is the duty of the State to provide every learner with every textbook prescribed for his or her grade before the commencement of the teaching course for which the textbook is prescribed.
But in October this year‚ the LRC was approached by two schools in the Eastern Cape - Nombulelo Secondary School in Grahamstown‚ and Bethelsdorp Comprehensive School in Port Elizabeth.
Both schools had not had a large proportion of their textbooks delivered for the 2016 school year. They are “no fee” schools which rely entirely on government support to function.
The combined value of the textbooks missing for both schools was R356‚677‚59‚ the LRC said.
"Despite their best efforts to obtain an explanation for the non-delivery from the Eastern Cape Department of Education‚ the schools were left waiting.
"As a stopgap‚ the schools were forced to make photocopies of textbooks which they could not afford‚ and require children to share one book between multiple learners‚ which badly impacted on the quality of education received by the learners."
Intervening on behalf of the schools at Nombulelo and Bethelsdorp‚ a letter of demand threatening litigation was sent. Shortly before an urgent application was launched‚ a settlement agreement was reached with the Department of Education.
"Nombulelo Secondary School and Bethelsdorp Comprehensive School have now received early delivery of their textbooks for the 2017 school year. This expedited delivery was agreed to by the Eastern Cape Department of Education. The schools can now take comfort in the fact that this situation that occurred in 2016 will not be repeated in 2017‚" the centre's lawyers said.
Sending a caution to all school districts‚ the legal eagles said: "The LRC will continue to keep a close eye on delivery of textbooks in the Eastern Cape for the 2017 school year".