No-fee school is forc­ing us to pay, say par­ents

CityPress - - News - SDUMO DLAMINI PADDY HARPER paddy.harper@city­

Par­ents at a no-fee school in Queen­stown, Eastern Cape, are out­raged af­ter the prin­ci­pal al­legedly forced them to pay a R100-per-child ad­mis­sion fee this week for the new aca­demic year. They also al­lege they were forced to pay a R150 “do­na­tion” at the end of last year to get their chil­dren’s re­ports.

Now one par­ent from Kwa-Ko­mani Com­pre­hen­sive School has writ­ten to re­gional ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor Nkosi­nathi Godlo, ask­ing him to in­ves­ti­gate.

The par­ent, who asked not to be named fear­ing vic­tim­i­sa­tion of her chil­dren, wrote that she had paid R250 for each of her chil­dren on Mon­day for ad­mis­sion, “ir­re­spec­tive of the fact that Kwa-Ko­mani is a no-fee school”.

The par­ent told City Press that pupils were forced to pay R150 on De­cem­ber 9 2015 to get their re­ports and the ad­di­tional R100 on Mon­day. The re­ceipts, stamped with the school stamp and dated Jan­uary 11, are for R250 each. They spec­ify a R150 “do­na­tion” and R100 “late reg­is­tra­tion”.

“We were told last year the pupils would only get their re­ports af­ter they paid the R150.

“We com­plained that there should be no reg­is­tra­tion or ad­mis­sion fee be­cause this is a quin­tile 3, sec­tion 21 school, where there are no fees. Most of the chil­dren are from poor homes and sur­vive on grants.

“How can we be forced to make these pay­ments when gov­ern­ment says we do not have to?” the par­ent asked.

A teacher at the school, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied, said: “Those who do not have the cash have been told they can pay later.”

Kwa-Ko­mani has been the sub­ject of in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the pro­vin­cial de­part­ment and the SA Coun­cil for Ed­u­ca­tors (Sace), with prin­ci­pal Vic­tor Pakade be­ing cleared by both in­sti­tu­tions and re­in­stated.

Re­cently, a new in­ves­ti­ga­tion was be­gun into the school’s nu­tri­tion pro­gramme, and those at nearby St Theresa’s and Mpen­dulo schools. The in­ves­ti­ga­tors’ fi­nal re­port has not been re­leased.

On Fri­day, Pakade called City Press, threat­en­ing ac­tion if the news­pa­per con­tin­ued to write about the school with­out his com­ment. He then re­fused to com­ment on the al­le­ga­tions. He in­sisted he would be cleared by the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the feed­ing scheme.

Provin­cial ed­u­ca­tion spokesper­son Loy­iso Pu­lumani un­der­took to in­ves­ti­gate the pay­ments and re­spond, but failed to do so. In an email sent to City Press last year, he dis­missed as “lies” claims made at the time by par­ents and teach­ers that par­ents had been forced to pay the R150.

“The as­ser­tion is com­pletely de­void of truth and is ob­vi­ously ped­dled by dis­grun­tled in­di­vid­u­als who seek to con­tinue to desta­bilise the school,’’ he said.

Pu­lumani said the R150 was for lost text­books.

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