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SAHRC considering legal action on non-delivery of textbooks

20 January 2017

ATTENTION: Editors and Reporters

The SAHRC has noted with concern the non-delivery of textbooks and learning materials in Limpopo Province.

In 2012, the Pretoria High Court ordered that all prescribed textbooks and learning materials be delivered.

In its judgment, the High Court declared that the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) failure to have delivered prescribed textbooks and learning materials before the commencement of teaching, was a violation of learners’ rights to basic education, equality and dignity, and ordered the DBE to provide every learner with prescribed textbooks before the commencement of the academic year.

The Minister of Basic Education and the Limpopo MEC appealed the judgment to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

In December 2016, the SCA upheld the High Court order of 2012, finding that the failure to deliver textbooks and learning materials was a violation of the right to basic education of the affected learners.

Dismissing the appeal, the SCA held that “the law is clear…The DBE is obliged to provide a textbook to every learner to ensure compliance with s 29(1)(a) of the Constitution. We must guard against those who are most vulnerable. In this case we are dealing with the rural poor and with children. They are deserving of Constitutional protection."

“The SAHRC has established, through its Limpopo Provincial Office, that several schools in the Limpopo Province have not received their textbooks timeously as ordered by the High Court and upheld by the SCA,” said Adv. Andre Gaum, SAHRC Commissioner responsible for Basic Education.

“The SAHRC regards the non-compliance by the DBE, and the consequent non-delivery of textbooks, in a very serious light,” said Adv. Andre Gaum.

The relevant departments, it appears, have not established adequate controls to ensure that textbooks are provided before the commencement of the academic year, as ordered by the Court.

The SAHRC calls on the Limpopo Department of Education to deliver all outstanding textbooks to all affected schools by 23 January 2017. The Commission calls on the Minister of Education to provide a formal undertaking that all textbooks have been delivered by 26 January 2017.

“The Commission would like to emphasise the gravity of the impact of non-delivery on the learners and on the broader community of Limpopo Province,” said Gaum.


Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission

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