Let us interrogate the scandal of the shortage of textbooks at some Limpopo schools, which keeps embarrassing Limpopo. No matter how much spin is given to defend the issue of textbook shortage, in the end, reality always reveals the opposite. This is a problem that needs a different approach not a spin, because spin-doctoring this issue will not bring solutions for the department of education. It will create a pile of problems that always end up in the North Gauteng high court in Pretoria while solutions can be reached here at home. Limpopo is the home of two universities, University of Venda and University of Limpopo. These are two universities that produce the best teachers, professors and lecturers. The question that needs to be asked is why the province does not use these intellectulas to provide solutions to the problem of shortage of textbooks.
Prof Mary Metcalfe of the University of Witwatersrand was appointed by the department of basic education to investigate the book shortage in Limpopo, which resulted in a report that was submitted to the department, but nothing has happened since then. We need Limpopo professors to come together to solve this problem. It is not about money, as the treasury has given the education department enough money in the 2014 budget, of which the department spent R120 million of R271 million. It is about applying a different method to solve the particular problem of shortage of books. The department of educations needs stakeholders such as the two universities to help provide solutions because officials and politicians alone cannot win this battle. The problem is that they use short term solutions to solve a permanent problem. Imagine if there was no lobby group such as Better Education For All that has the capacity to challenge the department in court. Nothing was going to be done to communicate this problem with the residence of Limpopo whose majority of children have enrolled in public schools. Lack of textbooks will create unintended consequences for the department of education in the future. To deny a child a book is to deprive a child a better future. This makes that child an empty vessel among his peers because that child will not have anything substantial to offer to the world, this country, this province and even his own peers. That child will develop a permanent inferiority complexity simply because he or she had shortage of books at school. The shortage of books is the creation of poor thinkers and illiterate children. The world is moving towards e-books. Maybe the department of education should now work towards achieving that because they have failed dismally since 2012 to deliver physical copies. The Internet has come up with creative solutions to solve complex problems such as the book shortage if the distribution strategy that is used is weak. Limpopo has learners with a high IQ. This has been demonstrated by the multiple awards gr. 12 learners that have achieved thoughout the years. But lack of books will kill those IQs and they will be used elsewhere such as on smoking dagga and drinking alcohol. The shortage of books should not be treated as political football or points scoring, but a reality that affects the lives of the children of Limpopo.