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Zuma: Probe Soobrayan over textbooks

Oct 05 2012 18:51 Sapa

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Johannesburg - The director general of the department of basic education must be investigated, based on the report of the presidential task team into late textbook deliveries in Limpopo, the presidency said on Friday.

President Jacob Zuma had decided that the Public Service Commission should investigate Bobby Soobrayan, spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement.

This was to do with issues including Soobrayan's alleged indecisiveness on receipt of a letter from the textbook publishers in December last year.

In the letter, the publishers reminded him that the learner, teacher support materials (LTSM) had not been ordered for the Limpopo education department.

He also apparently failed to provide the necessary support when the Limpopo department of education was placed under national administration.

In the report, the task team recommended that Soobrayan be investigated.

Rights group Section27 previously asked Soobrayan to resign over the Limpopo textbook saga.

The national department of basic education did not make ordering books a priority, despite advice to this effect from National Treasury and the administrators.

"The president views the failure to provide textbooks to Grades One, Two, Three and 10 in Limpopo in a very serious light and wants to ensure that there is no recurrence of the problem," Maharaj said.

Zuma asked Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to supply information on the supply of LTSM to the affected schools and the implementation of the catch up plan for Grade 10 pupils.

Motshekga was asked to report back by Friday.

The task team also found that a new curriculum for Grades One, Two, Three and 10 was a major cause of the problem, and that other grades had not been affected.

Reasons for the delays included that the Limpopo education department had outsourced the procurement and distribution of LTSM and had not implemented a risk management plan.

It had also not taken orders timeously nor had it managed the contract with the service provider, EduSolutions, efficiently.

Orders for stationery were prioritised over textbooks.

Neither the national or provincial departments had credible data on how many pupils needed to be catered for.

Sufficient funding was made available for textbooks by the provincial treasury, however there was overspending in other areas. For example, the filling of unfunded posts cost about R122.8 million.

There was also "a general tendency to disregard and transgress legislation", the task team found.

The ethos prevalent in the provincial department also did not promote a system of accountability and there was a lack of clarity on who should handle the procurement.

As a result, the Limpopo department of education did not order books for the 2012 school year.

Before the department was placed under administration, EduSolutions suspended the procurement when the department could no longer pay it.

Evidence regarding textbook dumping was not presented to the Task Team as the matter is before the courts and a disciplinary hearing is in process.

Legislation allowing the national government to monitor and support the provincial government more effectively through a system of early warning signals might have averted the LTSM problems.

The task team found that if such legislation had been passed, there would have been greater clarity on the various roles and responsibilities necessary.

"However, the absence of such a law cannot be used as an excuse for the Limpopo intervention not being effective and the failure to provide schools with textbooks," it said.

The team recommended that the national department of basic education develop a policy to standardise the procurement and distribution of LTSM.

It also recommended that the proper mechanisms should be developed to monitor the Grade 10 catch-up plan 10, and that there should be a quarterly report to Cabinet on the progress.
jacob zuma  |  limpopo  |  textbooks
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