THE Department of Basic Education failed to meet the court-ordered deadline to deliver textbooks in Limpopo, but the majority of blame should go to the provincial education department which should be "cleaned out," the executive director of public law centre Section 27, Mark Heywood, said yesterday.
The effect of the seven-month wait for education resources in the province has caused a public furore, with the delay culminating in court action, scrutiny of the efficacy of the national education department's intervention in the province, and three probes into what has caused the delays.
In May, the North Gauteng High Court had ordered the delivery of the textbooks by June 15, following a successful court application by Section 27.
This deadline was extended to June 27 after it became clear it would not be fully met. However, reports that schools have still not received their textbooks continue to pour in, and pressure has mounted on Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to resign.
Yesterday, Section 27 released findings of an independent report which was compiled by a team headed by former education director-general Mary Metcalfe.
The report, which verified the state of textbook delivery in the wake of the court deadline, concluded that pressure on the system had caused it "to buckle".
The provider database showed that only 15% of schools had received textbooks by June 27. This has risen to 48% by July 3, when 98% of textbooks had been delivered to central warehouses.
A much more comprehensive plan with more resources, capacity and infrastructure to deliver the books would have been needed if the two-week time frame was to be met, as the process usually took six weeks, the report said.
Addressing the media yesterday Mr Heywood said the centre, which has been working closely with the national department since winning its case, acknowledged the crisis in the Limpopo education department had been inherited by the national department when it took over administration last December.
It "was not solely" Ms Motshekga's responsibility and the centre would "not be commenting" on if Ms Motshekga should be dismissed, he said.
But Mr Heywood said the report had corroborated others that the Limpopo education department was "rotten" and was incapable of meeting its constitutional obligation to pupils.
Limpopo education MEC Dickson Masemola should be fired immediately as it was not justifiable for him to remain in his position when he "sits above such a wreckage," Mr Heywood said.
Two more task teams - one from the Presidency, and one from the Limpopo provincial government - were appointed at the beginning of this month to establish responsibility for the seven-month delay.
Basic education spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said it was unclear when the presidential task team would finalise its report. However, these types of teams had a turnaround of one month.
The team could apply for additional time to fulfil its mandate, he said.