Problems in provinces struggling to deliver basic education will be rectified, President Jacob Zuma told a Women's Day event in Pretoria on Thursday.
The "serious difficulties" in delivering education in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo were getting attention.
"We will do our best, working with communities, to reverse current difficulties and deliver quality education in these provinces,” he said.
Some grades in Limpopo received textbooks seven months after the school year started, while others were still waiting. Earlier in the year, lobby group Section27 obtained a court order for books to be delivered to Limpopo by 15 June. They were finally delivered on the revised date of 21 June.
On Monday, Zuma received a preliminary report from a presidential task team he assigned to investigate the debacle, amidst calls for the axing of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
On Thursday, Zuma said South Africa was on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal of promoting universal access to education.
"The number of girls attending primary, secondary and tertiary education has improved significantly. This is important because education is central to development and can serve as a catalyst to address gender disparities."
Zuma said the graduation of women from institutions of higher learning was steadily increasing, particularly in science, engineering and technology.
Zuma told thousands of people at the Union Buildings that South Africa had made notable strides to elevate the status of women since 1994.
"Most of the achievements in reducing extreme levels of income poverty can be ascribed to government's comprehensive social protection programme."
He said it would take years, if not decades, to completely eradicate poverty, inequality and unemployment, but South Africa would soldier on to achieve that goal.
"We are happy to have achieved the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing the number of people living on less than one US dollar a day," he said.
The nationwide electrification programme had been a great success.
"In rural areas, electrification has increased from 12 percent in 1994 to almost 60 percent currently. In addition, close to 450 000 people were supplied with basic water between April and December 2011."
He said South Africa was making good progress in improving women's access to health care services.
There had been aggressive implementation of policies to increase access to antiretroviral medicines. The country's objective was to increase access to antiretroviral drugs to 2.5 million South Africans by 2014.
He appealed to communities to support families and women who were victims of domestic violence. People should report violence and abuse to the police.
"As a nation we must unite against all hooligans who attack and sexually assault women and girls."
Zuma said the government would eradicate gender disparities, and he urged the private sector to do the same.
"Experience has shown that voluntary mechanisms (to enforce) gender equality are inadequate. For this reason, we have directed the ministry of women, children and people with disabilities to fast-track the Gender Equality Bill, so that we can enforce gender parity measures across all sectors of society."
August is Women's Month in South Africa. Women's Day is commemorated annually on 9 August in memory of the march held by women in 1956 to protest against apartheid pass laws, and a decision to apply them to women too.
In terms of this law, a pass restricted where black people were allowed to be, or travel to, in the country. Not carrying the pass, or not having it up to date, meant a fine or jail.