Last week, our partners at the Legal Resources Centre received welcome news regarding the failure of the regional Department of Education to deliver books to two schools in the Eastern Cape.
In October, Nombulelo Secondary School in Grahamstown and Bethelsdorp Comprehensive School in Port Elizabeth had reported to the LRC that they were missing textbooks to the tune of R356 677,59, in total. Both are “no fee” schools and thus rely entirely on government subsidies to provide resources in order to facilitate the provision of education to students. Inevitably, the learning opportunities afforded to students at these schools were significantly compromised. Learners were forced to share scant resources, including photocopies of textbooks which put a strain on the schools finances.
The provision of adequate educational resources by the state is a legal requirement following a ruling made by the Supreme Court in 2015. It is with this precedent that the LRC pressed the Eastern Cape’s Department of Education to take action in order to resolve this issue.
Following the delivery of a letter threatening litigation, an agreement was reached with the Department of Education. This agreement has seen the early delivery of the schools textbooks for 2017, which has allowed focus to return to providing education to the students.
It is worth noting that while this situation has now been resolved, the LRC have stated that they shall pay close attention to the delivery of textbooks throughout the Eastern Cape. It is hoped that with this additional layer of scrutiny, instances such as this shall be avoided in the future.