The textbook saga and corruption in education
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In mid-2012 a textbook war erupted in South Africa focused on provision in Limpopo province. Considerable international literature has highlighted the importance and complexity of textbook provision, quality and use in developing countries. This article focuses on the system of textbook provision that came into being in South Africa in the post-apartheid era and provides a closer examination of the Limpopo textbook crisis of 2012. It uses insights from the development literature combined with newer approaches to the state and corruption to provide a deeper understanding of the specific saga in Limpopo. The article argues that the system that came into being after 1994 was a market-based, decentralised amalgam or bricolage of previously-existing systems. Corruption, endemic in the apartheid era, quickly became embedded in new processes. New directions were undertaken in 2009/2010, but provoked misgivings and resistance. The context of the textbook saga was both political and economic. A fiscal crisis in Limpopo resulted in initial non-procurement and delivery. Over-priced contracts, inaccurate school data and poor communication systems worsened the situation. A new system was brought into being in Limpopo in the process, but serious systemic challenges remain. The article draws on evidence from secondary documentation, government reports and key informant interviews.