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Thursday, 31 October 2013
South Africa: Department Requests Funds From 2014/15 Budget for Textbooks
The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education heard that the Department of Basic Education will have to request funds from the 2014/15 budget be made available in 2013/14 to ensure that each child in every grade has a textbook for all subjects by the beginning of next year - a promise made by the Minister.
The Department is already in discussion with the National Treasury in this regard, said the Department of Basic Education's Mr Allan Subban during a presentation on the provision of Learner Teacher Support Material (LTMS), which includes textbooks and stationary. He said that LTMS will require less funding in 2014/15 because only a top-up of textbooks will be required. Large-scale textbook provision would have been covered in 2013/14.
Mr Subban stated that textbooks had already been delivered to warehouses in most provinces, although some provinces had made slower progress. In Limpopo, legal action by some publishers had prevented the distribution of textbooks until a court case had been concluded in favour of the Department of Basic Education.
Acting Deputy Director-General Mr Suren Govender said: "We are feeling comfortable there has been sufficient progress to ensure that, come the start of the 2014 academic year, we will not be challenged with the delivery of textbooks and workbooks." He said the sector had set the end of this month as its delivery deadline, leaving November as an opportunity to "mop up" any outstanding problems.
Acting Committee Chairperson Ms Nomalungelo Gina wanted more information on stationary, as she felt the Department was focussing on textbooks. Members of the Committee also said the retrieval of textbooks from learners needed urgent attention.
Committee Member Mr Donald Smiles said it remained to be seen whether textbooks would be delivered on time for the new school year. "We have been disappointed so many times."
Another Committee Member Mr Silence Makhubele also wanted assurance that the information provided by the Department in the presentation was an accurate reflection of what was happening.
Mr Subban informed the Committee that they would be able to update the Committee by the end of November on stationary.
Ms Annette Lovemore, who also serves on the Committee, was not convinced that the Department would meet its target for the 2014 school year.
Ms Gina noted that most challenges were external, such as the weather or printers. "The Committee would like fortnightly updates on LTMS to check on any challenges that might arise. We want to know what's happening in the provinces," she said.