Screws tightened in textbooks case
THE Department of Basic Education will now have to report to the Pretoria High Court on its progress in the delivery of textbooks and a catch-up plan for Limpopo pupils.
The department has also promised to deliver the rest of the Grades 1, 2, 3 and 10 textbooks to schools in Limpopo by October 12 and report to the court on October 15.
The department also agreed that textbooks for the 2013 academic year would be delivered by December 15.
This was part of the agreement reached by the department and human rights group Section 27 yesterday after the lobby group had approached the court seeking an order declaring that the department had failed to comply with the two previous court orders.
In May the court ordered the DBE and Limpopo department of education to deliver textbooks to schools across the province by no later than June 15, and to implement a catch-up plan for Grade 10 learners, starting on June 15.
A further court order was granted in July, confirming an undertaking by the DBE to complete the delivery of textbooks by June 27 and to revise its catch-up plan.
Section 27 had also asked the court to compel the department to conduct an independent verification process to determine which schools in Limpopo had received textbooks for the 2012 academic year.
Section 27 CEO Mark Heywood said the application was just to tighten the knots.
"Now the department will have to take an oath on the delivery of textbooks, unlike with previous orders where they only had to report on the catch-up plan," Heywood said.
Departmental spokeswoman Hope Mokgatlhe said they were compliant with the court order, because they were able to deliver a lot of books in a short time.
"We hope the judge will realise that we have done - in a few weeks - the job that would normally have taken us months," Mokgatlhe said.
"We cannot concede that we are non-compliant. Our communication channels are always open, taking us to court was a bit extreme."
The agreement will form part of a consolidating court order that Judge Jody Kollapen is expected to make in the next two days.