Over eight schools around the Ratlou Circuit in the North West have not yet received their stationery. One of them is Utlwanang Barolong Secondary School, a quintile one school that is fully reliant on the government for their needs.

The Grade 10 to 12 pupils are now said to be resorting to using loose paper to write on, ripping pages out of old exercise books to share among themselves.

Banyanahela Ntwe, SGB chairperson at Utlwanang Barolong Secondary school elaborates, “The Department always supplies the school with books. However, the department is suddenly delaying. These learners just come to school. Majority of their parents are unemployed. They survive on grants that are already used for buying these children clothes, food and toiletry. It is impossible for these parents to buy books for their children.  We are already starting on bad foot as this might affect their 2023 results.”

South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) has confirmed that other circuits across the province have also not received their stationery.

“We must raise our disappointment in the none or late delivery of stationery for books to the learners 2 weeks down the line. We can confirm that the preliminary reports that we’ve received is that is not only around the Madibogo area but we also have in some areas in Bojanala and in some areas around Zeerust in Ngaka Modiri Molema. We are not necessarily interested in the reasons why there’s a delay what were interested in that the learners at this point in time should be having all the requisite learner teacher support material that should be able to assist them to start with their schooling,” says Provincial Secretary for Sadtu, Els Themba.

Congress of South African Students (Cosas) says the department of education’s proclaimed readiness for this academic year was false.

“It is very shameful in a democratic country of South Africa for learners not to receive the stationery. This is part of negligence. The readiness of the department of Basic education was a conspiracy when they emphasised that they’re ready to commence with the 2023 academic year. We’re therefore giving the department of education in the North West Province to deliver learning material within a period of five days failure to do so will take further steps to ensure that those responsible are held accountable,” says Cosas Chairperson, Bongani Ndlovu.

According to departmental spokesperson, Elias Malindi, they are on track to deliver the needed stationery.

“We wish to categorically dismiss the issue that there is a shortage of stationery in about 26 villages. That is totally misleading what we can indicate is that we have started our delivery of stationery long before the schools could reopen. The challenge that we experienced is that not all the stationery was delivered in all the schools so some schools received 100% and some there were some sporadic shortages in those particular schools but there are trucks that are delivering stationery especially in the area of Ratlou.”

SABC learnt that the Department of Education delivered exercise books to the school following our inquiry. But the books were reportedly only enough for one Grade 12 class.

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