R36 000

CityPress - - News - SIPHO MA­SONDO sipho.ma­sondo@city­press.co.za

The Fed­er­a­tion of Gov­ern­ing Bod­ies of SA Schools (Fed­sas) has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­crease in pub­lic school fees. It be­lieves that within a few years, it’ll cost the same to send your child to a for­mer Model C school as it will to send them to a posh pri­vate in­sti­tu­tion. Fed­sas CEO Paul Colditz says the gap is clos­ing fast and the fed­er­a­tion’s “mas­sive” survey is work­ing to de­ter­mine how schools are funded, how they set their fees and use their money, and whether gov­ern­ment fund­ing is suf­fi­cient.

The survey would be ready for pub­li­ca­tion be­fore the end of the year, Colditz said, mak­ing it a use­ful guide for par­ents try­ing to choose the right school for their pock­ets.

Some of the coun­try’s most prom­i­nent and pres­ti­gious for­mer Model C schools charge fees that are only a few thou­sand rands less than their pri­vate school coun­ter­parts. In Dur­ban, the pri­vate Inanda Sem­i­nary School charged R41 000 a child this year, in­clud­ing tu­ition and board­ing.

Also in Dur­ban, the for­mer Model C Westville Boys’ High School is set to charge R36 000, in­clud­ing board­ing and tu­ition, next year, an ad­min­is­tra­tor who asked not to be named told City Press.

Ac­cord­ing to the school’s web­site, Inanda’s fees ex­clude the fol­low­ing: about R400 for sta­tionery, a text­book levy of R300, school trips at about R250, uni­form (R1 000), sport uni­form (R415) and bed­ding (R415).

Some for­mer Model C schools are al­ready on par with – or way ahead of – pri­vate schools. Pre­to­ria Boys’ High charged R33 000 for tu­ition alone this year. Board­ers then had to pay an ex­tra R44 150 each.

Colditz said the big­gest ex­pense for most for­mer Model C schools is ad­di­tional staff, who are ap­pointed by the school gov­ern­ing body.

“Un­for­tu­nately, state funds don’t cover elec­tric­ity and mu­nic­i­pal le­vies, and schools still have to add run­ning ex­penses. They pay for teach­ers and the main­te­nance of equip­ment. All th­ese things cost money,” Colditz said.

Another for­mer Model C in­sti­tu­tion, Jo­han­nes­burg’s King Ed­ward VII School (KES), charged R45 500 for board­ing and R33 000 for tu­ition this year. KES prin­ci­pal David Lo­vatt said tu­ition fees rose be­tween 8% and 9% an­nu­ally.

“An ad­di­tional 32 ed­u­ca­tors are em­ployed, plus 30-odd support staff,” said Lo­vatt.

He said the fees also al­lowed the school to keep fa­cil­i­ties like the li­brary, com­puter lab­o­ra­to­ries and “spe­cial­ist teach­ing venues” in good con­di­tion.

The money is worth it, Lo­vatt in­sisted. For their fees, the boys at KES are promised “first-class fa­cil­i­ties”, ad­di­tional teach­ers, smaller class sizes and “112 years of es­tab­lished tra­di­tion and ex­cel­lence”.

Even though the fees seem out of reach, the school is much in de­mand. Lo­vatt said it re­ceived about 1 000 ap­pli­ca­tions for 240 spa­ces each year.

Tony Reeler, the prin­ci­pal of Pre­to­ria Boys’ High, said: “We try to keep our fee in­crease to a sin­gle-digit in­crease and al­ways keep in mind the in­fla­tion fore­cast for the next year.

“Our big­gest ex­pense is the salaries that we pay to staff. Roughly half the teach­ers on staff are em­ployed by the school and more than 100 support staff – ad­min, grounds, cater­ing, etc – are also sup­ported by the school.”

Reeler ac­knowl­edged that par­ents were pay­ing a lot. “But in terms of value for money, they get an ex­cel­lent ed­u­ca­tion for their child. We be­lieve we of­fer a sim­i­lar or bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion than most in­de­pen­dent schools at roughly one-third of the price,” he said.

Pre­to­ria Boys’ High gave its pupils a wide sub­ject choice, classes smaller than 30 and a vast ex­tra­mu­ral pro­gramme – 14 sports, and about 30 other clubs and so­ci­eties, Reeler said.

In Dur­ban, the for­mer Model C Westville Boys’ High is set to charge R36 000, in­clud­ing board­ing and tu­ition,

next year

Our big­gest ex­pense is the salaries that we pay to staff. Roughly half the teach­ers on staff are em­ployed by the school and more than 100 support staff – ad­min, grounds, cater­ing, etc – are also sup­ported

TONY REELER, PRIN­CI­PAL OF PRE­TO­RIA BOYS’ HIGH SCHOOL

If you grow weary from spend­ing the day stalk­ing celebri­ties on the streets of Cape Town, mort­gage your house and splash R16 635 per night to maybe, pos­si­bly, spot Char­l­ize Theron and Sean Penn in the halls of the Nel­lie

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