Learners at 4 703 out of 5 451 public schools in the Eastern Cape have started the school year this morning without receiving textbooks. This is because these schools have not yet received their Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM).
The Democratic Alliance will be referring the matter to the Human Rights Commission, as textbooks are crucial in fulfilling a learner’s Constitutional right to education, and the failure of the Department to budget appropriately and place orders on time has resulted in a callous and unnecessary deprivation of this right.
It was clear last year already that LTSM deliveries would be delayed, as orders were not placed on time.
The Department had significantly cut per-learner school subsidies, while norms and standards budgets were also drastically cut, making it impossible for schools to afford to place orders for the textbooks and materials required.
Instead of ensuring a textbook in the hands of every learner is prioritised, the Department opted to rather enter an illegal procurement to lease tablets at more than double their purchase costs from ANC cadre Iqbal Surve’s, Sizwe Africa IT group.
The Department continues to incur mounting liabilities to Sizwe Africa for damaged and missing tablets, whilst none of the tablets are being used by learners as the contract is under High Court review.
I have submitted detailed questions to Education MEC, Fundile Gade, regarding the ongoing lack of LTSM material, including textbooks, stationery and learner and teacher furniture.
I will be reporting the Department of Education to the Human Right’s Commission, as learners are being denied their right to education by having their access to textbooks delayed due to the actions of the Department or completely taken away due to the reduction of budgets to schools.
We call upon the commission to act urgently to compel the Department to fulfil the rights of our learners. The Department must be forced to reverse the drastic budget cuts and procure the relevant LTSM.
The DA believes that every learner should have access to the necessary material required to gain an education.