|2012 05 20 Textbook failure wrecking futures|
Government is doing untold damage to the future success of pupils in the foundation stages and must take responsibility for under-achievement.
This is according to an education analyst who supported the challenge by a legal rights group, Section 27, in the High Court in Pretoria last week to force the government to deliver textbooks to schools in Limpopo. Section 27 won the case and the government now has a month to deliver textbooks to about 5 000 schools.
Bronwen Wilson-Thomson, a curriculum studies lecturer at Wits University, said the five months wasted in the school year could jeopardise pupils' futures.
"The impact on the learners in the foundation phase is serious in that the foundations of literacy and numeracy underpin all of their school learning," she said in an affidavit before the court.
"It is important for the Department of Basic Education to acknowledge its culpability in the under-achievement of learners."
Section 27, acting on behalf of Hanyani Thomo Secondary School and Tondai Lydia Masiphephethu, a mother of two pupils, launched an urgent application earlier this month against the national and provincial departments of education for failure to deliver textbooks. Pupils in grades R, 1, 2, 3 and 10 throughout Limpopo were affected.
Wilson-Thomson said while older pupils could catch up because they were able to work independently, the same could not be said for pupils in grades R, 1, 2 and 3.
She also said textbooks were important for parents to help their children with homework.
Judge Jody Kollapen agreed and ordered the department to deliver textbooks to all schools in Limpopo by June 15. He said the department must formulate a catch-up plan and report back to him by June 8.
Last December the Limpopo education department and four others were placed under administration.
More than R2bn was unaccounted for and there were numerous allegations of tender irregularities. Limpopo is one of the worst-performing provinces when it comes to the matric pass rate. Last year it had a pass rate of 63.9 percent, with all pupils failing at three schools.
In an affidavit, the acting intervention officer for the Limpopo Department of Education, Fikezweni Mavuso, said all teachers had been trained in the new curriculum assessment policy "and therefore would be able to recreate the teaching schedule on their own".
He said workbooks had been available to Grade 1-9 pupils since February 2, and most work was adequately covered.
Mavuso said textbooks were "simply complementary to the teaching process".
He described the idea of a catch-up plan as "a monumental waste of time and limited resources".
l The Legal Resources Centre, acting on behalf of the Centre for Child Law, might also institute an urgent High Court application following non-delivery or incorrect delivery of workbooks to thousands of pupils in the Eastern Cape.