THE provincial department of education in Limpopo has given school principals and school governing bodies until January 13 to release pupils' progress reports.
The ultimatum comes after reports that certain school principals and governing bodies have refused to give children their progress reports because they had lost textbooks or failed to return them when schools closed last year.
Nearly half the 4015 schools in the province are practising the unofficial "no books, no report" policy.
As a result many pupils spent Christmas and New Year not knowing whether they will proceed to the next grade or not.
Among the schools at fault are Boke, Kgwekgwe and Mohlatlego-Machaba High, all in Tzaneen.
A Grade 11 pupil at Kgwekgwe High in Moleketla near Relela, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she had spent a frustrating festive season because she did not know if she had passed or not.
The 18-year-old girl said she was unable to prepare for this academic year because she did not know how she performed. She said she had lost three textbooks and had no money to pay for them as her parents struggled to buy groceries for Christmas.
The education department has condemned the practice.
"This is wrong. Children cannot be punished for having lost the books," provincial education spokesperson Ndo Mangala said.
"There should be another way to address the problem rather than denying children the right to know what they had worked for the whole year."
Mangala said according to policy any problem relating to the education of a pupil should be attended to by the child's parents while the child remains in class.
"In the case of a learner failing to return a textbook, school management should issue a progress report and arrange payment for the book with the parents," he said.
But he pointed out that it was advisable to return the books so that they could be used again.
He said the department has budgeted R197 million for textbooks and R140million for stationery this financial year.