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Dysfunctional schools must be debated urgently in parliament – DA

The statement by the CEO of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools that approximately 90% of schools are dysfunctional, confirms the need for an urgent parliamentary debate on the state of our education system, the Democratic Alliance (DA) recently said.

The DA suggested a solution-driven parliamentary debate that can provide a platform for an honest and open discussion on education where representatives from all political parties can exchange ideas on pragmatic solutions to important challenges in education.

Topics of such a debate according to them should include:

  • Plans to stem teacher attrition and fill teacher vacancies
  • Addressing basic infrastructure and sanitation backlogs: 2 401 of South Africa’s 24 739 public schools do not have water, 3 544 do not have electricity and 11 450 are still using pit latrines, 22 938 schools do not having stocked libraries, 21 021 do not have any laboratory facilities and 19 037 do not have computer centres (statistics from the National Education Infrastructure Management System Report 2011)
  • Textbook and workbook delivery, e.g. the Limpopo textbook crisis and further reports on book dumping and burning and books delivered in incorrect languages
  • Educator accountability and performance

To read more go to Annette Lovemore’s article on allAfrica by Clicking Here!


Fasting in support of school libraries

Sue Blaine recently reported in Business Day on the 24 hour fast by lobby group Equal Education for School Libraries

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, the University of the Free State’s vice-chancellor Prof Jonathan Jansen, storyteller Gcina Mhlope and Department of Basic Education official Vincent Motau recently joined about 4500 people who participated in the 24-hour Fast for School Libraries.

Only 8% of SA’s roughly 28000 public schools have stocked libraries, 13% have library space that was not stocked and 79% have no physical library space, according to government statistics. Equal Education has been campaigning for a policy on school  libraries for the past year under the banner “1 School, 1 Library, 1 Librarian”.

To read the rest of Sue Blaine’s article in Business Day on allAfrica.com Click Here!

School libraries a human right?

The Department of Basic Education was recently accused of having no co-ordinated plans or support for school libraries. This came out in a debate on school libraries held at the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA),  and attended by representatives of the education departments, universities, librarians and the organisation Equal Education.

Th issue of school libraries came to the fore when thousands of pupils countrywide protested peacefully for school libraries in March this year.

Equal Education started last year with a national campaign for school libraries because only 7 % of South Africa’s 28 000 schools have functional libaries.

One of the pupils at the Luhlaza Secondary School in Khayelitsha summmarized the feeling most pupils have, when she described school libraries as a basic “right”. Many problems were pointed out, for instance the overcrowding in public libraries, scarcity of books and resources to assist pupils with assignments, excessive travel costs to get to these libraries, and the understaffing of these libraries.

Dr Jennifer Joshua, involved with early childhood development in the Department of Basic Education acknowledged that libraries and information services at schools have huge challenges. According to her the National Treasury made R2 billion available for infrastructure development which includes libraries, laboratories and more classrooms. She also referred to “National Guidelines for Libraries” which will soon be distributed to provinces and districts. These “guidelines” will focus among other things on the obligation to expand services, the training of personnel, the protection of resources and alternative methods of service delivery, for example mobile and classroom libraries.

Education officials from Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal emphasized the problem of communication (they get no feedback or support on the issue of school libraries) from the National Department. Since 1997 there were 5 concept policies on school libraries, but nothing official.

Mr Alan Thomson of the National Teachers Union (Natu) stressed that school libraries will never get of the ground or function effectively if the onus rests on teachers to manage it. Various librarians have shown that to manage a library, is a full time vocation. He suggests that the Department must investigate that possibility to bring these posts back to schools.

Mr Graeme Bloch of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) said a national campaign for school libraries is necessary, and that the government will have to start implementing its plans for it.

The state of school libraries in South Africa is illustrated in the following table:



Schools with no library or facilities for a library

Schools with space for a library, but no books

Schools with functional libraries





North West












Free State




Northern Cape




Eastern Cape




KwaZulu Natal




Western Cape




This posting was translated from an Afrikaans article by Alet Rademeyer “Skoolbiblioteke is ‘n reg’ in the Printed Beeld Newspaper of 9 April 2009, p.15.