Payments to no-fee schools probed
Eastern Cape education authorities will investigate claims by parents at no-fee schools in the Queenstown region that they are being forced to pay to have their children admitted and to get their year-end academic reports.
Last week, City Press reported that parents of pupils at Kwa-Komani Comprehensive School in Mlungisi township, a section 21 quintile 3 school, had to pay a R100 “late registration” fee per pupil. City Press has copies of receipts issued to parents last week when they took their children for the first day of school, which bear the school stamp and are issued from its official receipt book.
Parents also paid a R150 per child “donation” to the school. They challenged the response from the provincial education department that the amount was to replace textbooks, saying it was instead a fee they had to pay to receive their children’s final reports in December.
This week, parents and teachers from other no-fee schools in the Queenstown area, including St Theresa’s Primary School, called City Press and claimed this practice was widespread.
“This has been going on in the district for some time. It is only now that there is public scrutiny that they are coming up with excuses for the payments. These are poor parents who can’t afford to pay school fees, but they are still being forced to,” said a teacher at another school in the circuit, who asked not to be named.
Loyiso Pulumani, spokesperson for the department of education, said the allegations would be investigated because it was “irregular” for parents to be charged admission or registration fees.
“This remains an allegation until a proper investigation is held into the matter,” he said. “We are asking the district director to investigate this urgently.”
Pulumani said the department would also investigate claims that parents were also being asked to pay for reports and registration at other no-fee schools.
“We will then consider what to do. The allegations by the parents suggest a flouting of regulations that impacts on pupils whose financial status and lack of access to resources has led to them attending a no-fee institution,” he said.