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Textbook crisis worse than Limpopo

Posted : 28 November 2012

WITH only days until the end of the school year, some Eastern Cape schools still have not received textbooks or workbooks for the 2012 curriculum.

Principals at 12 of the 40 Nelson Mandela Bay schools contacted by The Herald said they were still waiting for the full consignment of workbooks and textbooks ordered late last year.

Among the Bay schools affected by poor delivery are:


  • Arcadia Secondary School, which only received 50% of the required textbooks, resulting in pupils being unable to write their annual national assessments;
  • Yellowwoods Farm School, about 40km outside Port Elizabeth, received a small number of textbooks, which they could not use anyway because they were in Zulu;
  • James Jolobe High School in Motherwell, where 95% of the required workbooks for Grade 10 pupils have still not been delivered;
  • Mzontsundu High School in Kwazakhele, where workbooks for the third and fourth terms have not yet been delivered;
  • Alfonso Arries Primary School in Chatty, which only received its consignment of books last month;
  • Mount Pleasant Primary, which only received their workbooks for the first and second term in the third term. Even then, most of them were in the wrong language;
  • Aaron Gqadu Primary in Kwazakhele, where a quarter of pupils went without workbooks this year; and
  • Cedarberg Primary School in Booysen Park, which received fewer than half their workbooks.


Other schools which confirmed to The Herald that they had not received all their workbooks and textbooks included Bethvale Primary in Bethelsdorp, Abraham Levy Primary in Schauderville, BJ Mnyanda Primary in Kwazakele, Brylin Learning Centre on William Moffet Expressway, Bushy Park Farm School in Bushy Park, Canzibe Primary in Motherwell and Douglas Mbopa Secondary in Motherwell.

Workbooks contain exercises that pupils complete and are linked to subject lesson plans.

Earlier this year, school textbooks were found dumped at rubbish tips, rivers or simply shredded in the Fort Beaufort area.

The textbook crisis in the Eastern Cape prompted the DA to call on public protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate. The report is due for completion at the end of the month.

This year more than 24 000 textbooks were in the wrong language, with a shortage of 14 711 in the province, according to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

But a provincial education portfolio committee in September found there was a shortage of more than 40 000 textbooks in Port Elizabeth alone. The shortage involved 65 schools. Yellowwoods Farm School principal Neliswa Faas said the school had a severe shortage of English and maths textbooks. The textbooks they did receive were in Zulu.

She said teachers had been forced to borrow books from other schools and make photocopies.

James Jolobe High School deputy principal Fundile Diamond said the school had battled as only 5% of their workbooks had been delivered.

“We ended up buying books for teachers only. We returned the wrong [Zulu] books, but until now no new books have come back again.”

A principal at a former Model C school, who did not want to be named, described this year’s book shortage as a “complete joke”.

“We received our workbooks for term one and two in the third term, which was pointless,” he said. He said the other batch was in Zulu. “It was sent back, but nothing ever came back after that. It was just as well we had made contingency plans, knowing the nature of the department.”

DA provincial education spokesman and MPL Edmund van Vuuren said while the country focused on the Limpopo textbook saga, the Eastern Cape had been forgotten.

“The Eastern Cape shortage surpasses Limpopo’s. It is absolutely unacceptable that such mistakes can happen and take so long to rectify,” he said.

Education Department spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said the department had worked hard to rectify the textbook bungle.

“To our knowledge, those that had the wrong books delivered or had shortages of some sort have been dealt with,” he said.

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