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The latest school curriculum offering in South Africa, has been the introduction of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) in 2011 and this has logically been followed by the production of new textbooks in 2013 aligned to the current education syllabus requirements. This paper examines the use of the Geography grade 11 and 12 CAPS textbooks and the challenges experienced by teachers (as articulated by them) in their use in two poor provinces that lie on the eastern coast of South Africa. The data emanates from a northern and southern hemisphere Geography Textbook and Pedagogy mixed methods study involving Norway, South Africa (SA), Swaziland and Zimbabwe. This paper utilizes the data generated from two instruments namely questionnaires and interviews from the South African data sets in the following two poor provinces: Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Selected theoretical filaments deriving from Bates and Poole’s (2003) SECTIONS model (a refinement from Bates, 1995, ACTIONS model) and Kasule’s (2011) ‘readability’ of a textbook, were of significance. The findings on the CAPS textbook use reveal an immense dissatisfaction amongst the Geography teachers. They bemoaned the lack of learner access to textbooks. It was evident that textbook shortages negatively impacted on effective teaching and learning thereby affecting learner performance in the final years of schooling. Teachers also expressed their disappointment at many of the textbooks’ quality with respect to inadequate and insufficient geographic content, decontextualised material, extraneous examples and some incorrect information. There were concerns that some of the current textbooks did not adequately acknowledge the needs of learners for whom English is a second language in these provinces. The authors recommend a reimagining of the CAPS textbooks by stakeholders to address some of the existing challenges in their use.
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