'Angie doesn't listen'
South Africa's education system is spiralling out of control and failing millions of pupils.
From failure to deliver textbooks to unpaid bills and corrupt education officials, not much has been achieved since 1994.
Former health minister Barbara Hogan yesterday added her voice to the growing list of critics lambasting the failures of the country's education system.
Speaking at non-governmental organisation Equal Education's national conference yesterday, Hogan yesterday urged young people to mobilise and "start holding government accountable", adding the 1976 Soweto uprising showed pupils' strength.
"It cannot be said that just because things were bad in apartheid doesn't mean we cannot say things are bad now. Democracy always has to be strengthened and fought for," she said.
"Rather than just holding marches, marches and marches, students need to find much more innovative ways of organising. If money is not flowing properly [in an education department], they need to go to the financial office and demonstrate."
Hogan's comments come two weeks after Justice Minister Jeff Radebe called the non-delivery of textbooks to Limpopo schools a "national shame" - and on the day that saw several dramatic events unfolding in education.
A Limpopo clerk was arrested for dumping hundreds of textbooks as the national department prepared to defend itself against a lawsuit brought by nine members of the African Publishers Association to stop it from delivering books not selected by schools.
The association claims in court papers that catalogues had been sent to schools by publishers for teachers to select those they wanted. But when the national department took over, it wanted to supply the schools with its own choice of books.
The matter was removed from unopposed motions to allow the department time to file opposing papers.
In Eastern Cape, the provincial education department - which is under administration - took over the ordering of textbooks after Section 21 schools defaulted on payments to service providers, leaving it with a bill of more than R120-million.
SA Booksellers Association president Simphiwe Molosi said though he welcomed the department's plans, he was concerned about its procurement processes.
"We would not like a situation in which fully fledged booksellers are going to be put out of business. This is our main concern. We know about sinister forces that normally operate in Bhisho. Our fear is that we don't want to see catering people delivering books," Molosi said.
The DA yesterday said an inspection at a warehouse in the Port Elizabeth district had revealed that thousands of textbooks were being returned by schools.
According to DA Eastern Cape education spokesman Edmund van Vuuren, Xhosa pupils had been sent Sotho workbooks, while Afrikaans- and English-speaking pupils had received Xhosa workbooks.
"A lack of consultation from the national department's side and a chaotic workbook delivery process by the provincial department has led to hundreds of schools in the PE district alone being left without any literacy and numeracy workbooks for children in Grades R to 7," Van Vuuren said.
"Once again, the education department has put the future of thousands of children at risk through this blatant disregard for their education needs.
"The books that have been ordered are only applicable for this year, meaning that public money will also go to waste."
Pupils attending Equal Education's first national congress in Johannesburg this week had harsh words for the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, saying she did not care about them or education .
John Orr Technical High School's Grade 8 pupil, Bahle Lolwana, said: "The minister is not listening to us. She doesn't care about other people's needs."
His brother, Bathandwa, called for Motshekga to step down.
"She should resign. I think the minister thinks we are a bee buzzing in her ear. What we want are minimum norms and standards. She promised us that."
Said Grade 12 pupil Nontsikelelo Dlulani of Westridge High School in Mitchells Plain: "She doesn't care how we feel and is not taking our rights into consideration."
Yolanda Fani of Luhlaza High School in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, said: "She doesn't know how we feel. Her children were in a good school. She doesn't want us to have a brighter future. Today, I want the minister to be accountable."
At the end of the congress tomorrow, pupils will decide on whether they will call for officials involved in the Limpopo textbook scandal to resign, according to the NGO's general secretary, Doron Isaacs.
He said they would also call on President Jacob Zuma to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry to look into the Limpopo textbook scandal.
There are at present three separate inquiries into the saga.
Isaacs said: "A judge must look at what went wrong with delivery. This may seem like a serious move but nothing is more serious than millions of learners without textbooks. The government needs to answer what went wrong and why this happens. If it doesn't move to answer questions, we will lose confidence in it." - Additional reporting by Sapa