EC textbooks: Give the money to schools to do their own procurement

It was reported in the media today (Friday, 16 October), that the Eastern Cape Department of Education was unable to pay their debts to publishers because it had spent R200-million allocated for textbooks, on staff salaries and furniture.

Reports that the Eastern Cape Department of Education does not have the money to pay the Publishers’ Association of South Africa (Pasa) for textbooks for next year, is just another example of the general implosion of this department.

The DA believes that money for learner-teacher support material (LTSM) must be ring-fenced by the department and be given to schools to do their own procurement.  In the past the majority of schools showed that they had the capability to procure their own LTSM successfully.

Thousands of learners are being robbed of the opportunity to have an environment that is conducive to learning.  Our children have the right to be free from a situation where they have to scrounge around for textbooks and learner materials.

This week members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) were told by a department official that there was a ‘general laxity’ (sic) and no internal control in education.  This department has been suffering from no leadership and internal power struggles in the top management for years – this department should be locked down and restarted again.

It is senseless calling on MEC Mandla Makupula to intervene, as he is part of the problem.  The DA calls on Premier Phumolo Masualle to take urgent and decisive action on behalf of the 1, 89 million learners in our   5 554 public ordinary schools in the province.

One can assume that the budgetary bottleneck emanates from the department’s maladministration of its teacher numbers.  They are over-compensating by taking money from other items to pay the salaries of the more than 2 400 additional teachers in the system.  Between January and March 2015 this department underspent by R120-milion on compensation of employees.  Why then, are there these contrasts when they previously underspent and now need to find money?

It is unacceptable that our learners continue to be the victims of the department’s incapability to manage its administration. — Edmund van Vuuren MPL, Shadow MEC for Education 

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