By JOY HINYIKIWILE
The Eastern Cape Department of Basic Education has promised to meet the Makhanda High Court’s order to deliver stationery and textbooks to schools by 31 March.
The order resulted from legal action taken by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) based on the department’s failure to deliver textbooks and stationery to over 3 000 public schools in the province by the start of the 2022 academic school year.
The LRC represented the education organisation Khula Community Development Project and children and parents from Makhanda and across the province.
On 15 March, the High Court in Makhanda ordered the department to deliver all outstanding textbooks and stationery to public schools across the province by 31 March and submit an affidavit within seven days to update the court and applicants on the progress.
On 25 March, Eastern Cape Basic Education Head of Department Dr Ntombizanele Mbude issued the affidavit, promising to do everything in her power to comply with the court’s order.
In the affidavit, Mbude notes that the department has engaged SEVEN small, medium and micro courier enterprises (SMMEs) to undertake deliveries of LTSM to schools in the province.
“The Department sources titles of textbooks from Department of Basic Education (DBE) approved publishers,” she states.
The HOD also notes that 15 schools in the Amatole District had yet to receive textbooks and stationery, 3910 schools in the entire province had yet to receive “top-up textbooks”, and 83 schools in the province had partially received their “top-up textbooks” for the year.
“[T]op-up textbooks are those over and above which were retrieved by the schools at the end of the previous school year in terms of the Department’s retrieval policy given that textbooks generally have a five-year life-span.”
The HOD promises to have textbooks and stationery delivered to the Amatole District schools by 25 March and have all “top-up textbooks” delivered to the 3993 by 31 March.
She notes that the end of term school holidays may lead to challenges in the delivery, but she promises to make delivery arrangements with the schools for the period.
“I assure this Honourable Court that everything humanly possible and practically possible is being done to comply with this Honourable Court order of 15 March 2022 to ensure that delivery of the requisitioned stationery and textbooks to the remaining schools in the province is completed by 31 March 2022,” she said.
Cameron McConnachie of the LRC says though the department appears to be working hard to comply with the court order, he does not believe deliveries will be complete by 31 March.
“We received notification that ‘Paradise Stationers’ was delivering textbooks to Makhanda schools on [31 March]. They had contacted schools and asked them to be ready to accept deliveries,” he said.