The Bloemfontein Supreme Court of Appeal will, on November 24, hear an important case which will define government’s obligations with regard to the delivery of text books to learners in South Africa’s schools.
Public interest NGO Section 27 will represent Basic Education for All (BEFA), a community based organisation whose members include learners, parents and educators in Limpopo, as it faces the Department of Basic Education over the provision of textbooks for children in Limpopo.
The case has significant implications for defining government’s duty to provide basic education. Practically, it could force the government to deliver millions more books to schools, in a timely manner. Government is concerned that it cannot be held to “an impossible standard of perfection” with regard to textbook delivery, arguing instead that it should be required to undertake “all reasonable measures” in this regard.
On the other hand, Section 27 and BEFA argue that the right to basic education contained in South Africa’s constitution should be interpreted as an “unqualified right”, which is immediately realisable.
Ahead of the court hearing, BEFA kicked off the #TextbooksMatter campaign, which highlighted the poor state of textbook delivery and the impact of this problem on learners in Limpopo. #TextbooksMatter calls on South Africans to record a short message and share on social media why textbooks matter.