A DA inspection of an Education Department district warehouse in Fort Beaufort, Eastern Cape, has discovered thousands of textbooks lying burnt in and around the premises. (See image below)
Most of the books are mathematics texbooks. We have written to MEC Mandla Makupula demanding an explanation as to how valuable public resources for Eastern Cape children were allowed to be destroyed in this irresponsible way.
In other parts of the warehouse, boxes of books still in their packaging were discovered. It is unclear how many boxes are being housed there as some parts of the premises were not accessible to us.
The Department needs to account for how many boxes of books remain inside the warehouse and when these will be delivered to schools.
Given the massive shortages of both textbooks and workbooks in schools, every single book that does not reach a school will have an impact on a child’s ability to learn.
It is also clear that Basic Education Department spokesperson, Panyaza Lesufi’s claims that chronic book delivery problems are limited only to the Port Elizabeth district are false.
The destruction of these books raises serious questions about why proper care was not taken to ensure that they were delivered to schools on time at the beginning of the year.
Were these books deliberately destroyed or was proper care not taken to get the books to schools safely and on time?
We reiterate our calls for all outstanding books to be delivered to schools without delay and for the government database on book shortages to be published for public scrutiny.
Edmund van Vuuren
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