Western Cape Education Department Leads the Country in Textbook Provision
The Western Cape government is fully committed to the provision of textbooks to all our learners, as we believe they are an indispensable learning tool. The Western Cape leads the country in textbook provision and we have put enormous financial and other resources into ensuring our schools are text rich environments.
It is therefore regrettable that Equal Education, possibly through a lack of understanding of how the education system works has misrepresented the true situation in the Western Cape.
With the introduction of the new curriculum in 2008, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has placed a major emphasis on ensuring that all learners, especially in Grades 10, 11 and 12, are provided with the relevant textbooks.
In terms of national policy, schools receive a norms and standards funding allocation, with which it is their responsibility to purchase textbooks. In order to do this, adequate planning must be undertaken to assess textbook requirements and, critically, to ensure that there is a retention strategy in place, i.e. to ensure that learners return their textbooks at the end of each school year.
The Western Cape has gone beyond this obligation and initiated additional textbook top-ups above and beyond the normal norms and standards allocation. We have this year, for example, provided an additional fifteen thousand (15 000) textbooks to Grade twelve (12) learners in the seven (7) core subjects in a top-up programme.
Furthermore, as a demonstration of the seriousness of our commitment to text-rich environments, we have allocated an additional R101 million for the purchase of text books throughout the system. This is in addition to the nationally prescribed norms and standards allocation. This allocation has been funded in part through a R16 million saving on business class flights, parties and any other unnecessary expenditure.
We are also in the process of finalising an unprecedented second top-up programme for Grade 12 learners to identify where there may still be textbook shortages. This will be completed by the start of the third term. It must be emphasised that any shortages, where they may exist, are very much the exception, and represent a fraction of the total allocation.
It seems that Equal Education has failed to grasp how important it is for individual schools to take responsibility for their textbook management and that every effort is being made by this administration to ensure that schools are text-rich environments.
Equal Education's energy would ultimately be much better spent assessing the overwhelming need for textbooks in other provinces in South Africa.
Minister of Education, Donald Grant
Cell: 072 7241 422
Tel: 021 467 2377