Textbooks hotline starts
After eight months and three investigations, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has launched a hotline to establish how many schools in Limpopo are still without textbooks.
Visiting principals in the province yesterday, the embattled minister announced the hotline, saying it would help the department identify which schools are still affected.
The hotline's call centre, she said, was established following an instruction from the ANC, and would also help her find out which schools received extra textbooks and which received too few or none so that the mistakes could be corrected.
It has been reported that thousands of schools in Limpopo had not received their textbooks seven months after they were due.
Speaking to journalists after meeting just over 200 school principals at Greenside Primary School, in Polokwane, Motshekga said the call centre became operational yesterday but she urged schools not to use it until Monday, by which time it will have been tested.
Motshekga, who has been under immense pressure to resign because of her handling of the textbooks debacle, says calls for her to be axed are premature. She refused to answer questions on the subject.
"What's this whole rush about?" she asked, seemingly unfazed.
"Wait for the presidential task team and take it from there," she said.
"Now, no one has been found guilty, so I really think it is very unbalanced and very unfair; that's why I'm refusing to answer that question.
"I say be patient, wait, the president has received an interim report. It will come in your lifetime. It will come and then we will take things from there."
Motshekga yesterday blamed the late delivery of the textbooks on "sabotage". Some service providers reportedly dumped and burned books.
Motshekga said she had apologised to the school principals she met yesterday for the textbooks shortages, and said her catch-up plan - pupils and teachers will use study guides to catch up in the first two terms - got a warm reception.
She said the principals agreed that teachers would give Saturday classes to Grade 10 pupils.
The Times visited several schools in Westernburg, about 2km from where Motshekga met the principals, for a snap survey of how they were affected by the crisis.
A tutor at Westernburg Secondary School said 187 Grade 10 pupils performed dismally in their June exams because of the non-delivery of textbooks.
Though Afrikaans pupils all received their textbooks, those taught in English did not receive their geography, life orientation, life sciences, history, accounting and economics books.
"This problem has given our teachers a headache. We had a meeting with the parents on Saturday about this situation.
"It is unfortunate but they know through media reports that this is not the school's fault," he said.
A teacher at Goodhope Primary School said only 57 textbooks were delivered for 381 pupils in Grades 1, 2 and 3.
Teachers were forced to make photocopies of the few books they had.