Pay­ments to no-fee schools probed

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

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.

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