long wait for books

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

With only two weeks left before the first school term comes to an end, only 13 percent of Mpumalanga schools have received learner-teacher support materials (LTSM) and textbooks.

Sowetan has learnt that only 13 percent of the 1869 schools have received complete orders of LTSM, leaving the rest only partially equipped with the necessary materials.

At Empucukweni High School in Witbank pupils and parents have raised concerns regarding the lack of delivery of LTSM and textbooks.

They claim five to six pupils share one textbook, giving a new meaning to the phrase "to share one's knowledge".

The department has confirmed that only 13 percent of the provincial schools have received complete orders.

The monitoring of the delivery of textbooks, done on a weekly basis, reveals that 46 percent of the textbooks have not yet reached their destination - of which 32 percent is blamed on the supplier's slow delivery and transport problems.

For the 1386 grade R to grade 3 schools, only 50 percent of their total order has been supplied.

Other excuses from the department's side include blaming schools for submitting their orders late.

Departmental spokesman Hlahla Ngwenya says the MEC has arranged a meeting with book publishers to sort out the problem.

"The meeting, which is expected to take place before the end of the term, seeks to deal with delays in publishing the ordered books and deliveries to all our schools," Ngwenya said.

Anthony Benadie, the provincialDA leader, says: "We believe that the bad start to the school year could have been averted had the department done proper planning, set prescribed deadlines and selected dependable service providers.

"Education MEC Siphosezwe Masango has a responsibility to ensure that all outstanding learner-teacher support materials and textbooks are delivered to all schools by April 14," he said.

This is the date on which the second term starts.

Benadie says this might have a detrimental effect on the 2008 academic results.