Doing the Ostrich

“Doing the Ostrich” aka sticking your head in the sand when a real problem exists. Angie Motshekga, our current Basic Education Minister, is doing just this and avoiding all the problems her department faces. I have one sentence for Angie: “You’re an intellectual refugee”.

Good old Angie keeps on commenting how she’s trying so hard and that “if she was running a business then she’d have a base of 12 million customers”. Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Let’s not even go into the issue of teachers or schools but keep on the topic of textbooks. It’s now half way through the year and kids in Limpopo can’t get their textbooks because Angie and her band of merry incompetents can’t get the basics together. Where does the blame lie? Are textbooks not getting to kids due to printing or delivery issues and how do we solve the problem?

At first I thought the best way to handle the problem was to open source the textbooks. Simply put you take the textbooks, get someone to write them once off with a creative commons license and print the updated versions every year. This would unfortunately be taking food out of the mouths of the textbook writers and publishers who actually add some value to the process and (in my limited experience) deliver on time. Somewhere the real issue sits between the printers and the distributors. I propose a reasonably simple solution:

Listed entities such as the cellular providers, banks and others use their resources to both print and deliver the textbooks. At the end of every year (when most people are on holiday) these big entities go down to their printing rooms and print out a few hundred thousand copies of textbooks themselves. They print, bind and prepare them using their current unused (remember it’s holiday time) infrastructure. Publishing houses are still paid by government and continue their usual tendering process and creation of the material. These corporates then go so far as to each employ a team of drivers for a month to distribute the textbooks. They provide employment, major value and it can all be written off as tax deductible corporate social responsibility. Textbooks are then printed on normal A4 pages meaning they can be taken for recycling at the end of the year.

Dear Angie: even if you have 12 million clients, the moment you screw up over 1% you’re destroying a future. I hope you sleep well at night.

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