Tag: Department of Basic Education

By Bridget Mpande for Mpumalanga News

In a management plan towards schools opening and being ready for the 2022 academic year, the Mpumalanga Department of Education has stated that it is mandatory that all learners must have the stationery in their possession by January 12.

According to the Mpumalanga MEC for education, Bonakele Majuba, learning/teaching support material was distributed to all schools in November and December.

“The schools are expected to hand over the material to all learners equally before January 12 to enable teaching and learning to start in earnest from the first period of the school year. This includes stationery, workbooks, stationery for new schools/ grades, special schools and e-learning. The department has spent R266m to achieve this.”

Some parents have raised their concerns and they are facing challenges, saying they do not understand how some schools can refuse to comply when they are public schools.

According to them, they had sent their children to these schools to collect their stationery, however, they returned empty-handed. According to a person who wished to remain anonymous, her Grade 11 sibling was told that she would not receive her stationery until her fees were paid.

“This is not easy for us as a family, because our mother is unemployed and we do not have money. We were told that she needs to pay R450, but my mother managed to raise R300. We had hoped that the school would allow her to get school material. Our worry is that it is a public school and from what we know, they are not supposed to demand school fees before handing out stationery.”

The department said it has developed a deployment list for public representatives to visit various schools today to monitor the opening, to welcome all role players and to support the teaching and learning process.

The department remains adamant on its position that it is essential that all learners should have stationery in their possession by January 12. It had not given its response to the parents’ concerns by the time of going to press.

By Sne Masuku for IOL

Black publishers and stationery service providers in KwaZulu-Natal have criticised the provincial Department of Education for awarding its R263-million stationery/textbook contract to one company to distribute these items to all public schools in the province. They claimed they were being put out of business.

The publishers and service providers, who own medium and small businesses, had previously serviced Section 21 schools. They alleged the new central procurement system tender awarded to one company in 2014 had expired in 2016, but the contract had been renewed for the past two years “illegally and uncompetitively”.

Complaints by the Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) Forum, comprised of representatives of the affected businesses, threatened legal action against the central procurement system and planned to challenge the legality of the tender. Should this matter end up in court, it would be the fourth procurement tender of the provincial department taken to court.

The department’s Nutrition Programme, the Scholar Transport Programme and the sanitary pads tender, worth millions, were some of the tenders suspected of irregularities, with some going to court.

Last week, the forum lodged a complaint with the provincial portfolio committee on education. The service providers asked the committee to escalate their matter to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga after their requests for a meeting with department officials were allegedly ignored.

Most schools had waited nearly a year for the department to give them funds for books and stationery.

Later in the year, the department, through a circular, advised schools that quotes which had exceeded 20% of the catalogue price including VAT, transport costs and other costs, would be migrated to the central procurement system using the service provider appointed by the department.

Service providers which supplied Section 21 schools with their stationery lost business when the department migrated their orders with private service providers to a company it had appointed.

“We are questioning why the department was so eager in doing business with a company that does not have a valid contract.

“The department is deliberately delaying payment of Section 21 school funds to take away business from us. The intention is to create a new monopoly in the Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) business,” said Mandla Shangase, the interim LTSM Forum chairperson.

According to the South African Schools Act, Section 21 schools which chose to order through private service providers had a right to do so.

This time, schools were told not to confirm their orders before they received a written confirmation from the department that the funds had been transferred.

A multidisciplinary task team appointed by Motshekga is currently investigating allegations of misappropriation of funds levelled by the National Teachers’ Union against the provincial department.

Department spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said any contractual obligations that the department may have with service providers remained confidential.

He said the department would never be involved in unlawful activities because they believed in good governance and transparency.

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