Schools wait for funds as time runs out for 2008

Tebogo Monama

Tebogo Monama

Gauteng's education department has only five weeks to allocate funds to 102 schools in Soweto before they close for the holidays.

The schools are unlikely to have the set books and stationery they need when they reopen on January 9 next year.

Tumi Ramasike, chairman of the School Governing Bodies Association in Soweto, said: "Even if the department gives us the money now, we are unlikely to be able to get the books in time. The process of buying books takes time.

"We still have to look for suppliers, get quotations and then get the individual SGBs' approval before buying the books. I doubt we'll get the books on time."

Each high school is allocated R800000 a year for stationery and maintenance, and primary schools receive R300000 a year. The money, which comes from the coffers of the national Education Department and is distributed by the provinces, should have reached the schools by May.

But the department is running five months late and has yet to release funds for 102 primary and high schools in Soweto.

Clive Gillitt, managing director of the National Education Group, said most publishers do not even print school books before they receive a firm order from education departments.

"If they are not in stock, it can take virtually six weeks to get the books," said Gillitt.

Gillitt, who is also an educational council member for Gauteng at the Publishers' Association of South Africa, said grades 4, 6 and 12 pupils would not be affected because their study materials were specially funded by the national department through EduSolutions, a private company.

Yesterday the governing bodies met Tom Manthata of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to discuss the matter.

The commission's spokesman Vincent Moaga said: "The SAHRC believes in the provisions of our constitution.

"The right to education is very important and all stakeholders should take responsibility for its realisation."

Gauteng education spokesman Kate Bapela said: "We are really pushing to ensure that the schools receive books before the end of the term."