What SA’s top schools will charge next year

Levies for this and ‘dona­tions’ for that add to the bur­den par­ents must bear

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By PREGA GOVEN­DER goven­derp@sun­day­times.co.za

A R600 sta­tionery levy, a R350 par­ents’ as­so­ci­a­tion levy, R200 for a credit check and a R1 000 do­na­tion to re­ward top teach­ers. Th­ese are just some of the extra costs many cash-strapped par­ents will have to fork out when the 2018 school year be­gins.

Both private and for­mer Model C schools are in­creas­ingly us­ing th­ese levies over and above school fees to bol­ster cof­fers and main­tain stan­dards.

A sur­vey by the Sun­day Times this week found fee in­creases at both state and private schools were well above the cur­rent in­fla­tion rate of 4.8%. In­creases at private schools av­er­aged 8% and hikes at state schools 7.4%.

Tuition fees at Bish­ops in Cape Town have been hiked 8% from R125 350 to R137 260, and fees at St John’s Col­lege in Jo­han­nes­burg have risen al­most 7.8% from R134 963 to R145 488. Fees at King Ed­ward VII School, one of Jo­han­nes­burg’s top for­mer Model C schools, will rise 9.8% — from R43 250 to R47 500 — next year.

While sev­eral schools are find­ing in­no­va­tive ways to get extra cash, Wool­hope Sec­ondary in Port Eliz­a­beth has con­tro­ver­sially of­fered to halve the fees in 2018 of pupils who ob­tained East­ern Prov­ince or na­tional colours in sport, art, drama and cul­ture this year. Two gov­ern­ing body as­so­ci­a­tions say the of­fer is un­law­ful.

Mem­bers of Wool­hope Sec­ondary’s gov­ern­ing body will also get a 50% re­duc­tion in their chil­dren’s fees, which have been set at R1 850 for next year. Ac­cord­ing to the South African Schools Act, gov­ern­ing body mem­bers are not en­ti­tled to any re­mu­ner­a­tion.

A par­ent of a Pre­to­ria pri­mary school pupil said her daugh­ter’s school hounded her for dona­tions through­out the year even though she paid tuition fees.

“The school asked me for around R50 to pay for an eye test for my daugh­ter. I re­fused be­cause she could get it for free at our phar­macy. The teacher be­came nasty after I re­fused to al­low my daugh­ter to have the test.”

KES prin­ci­pal David Lo­vatt said its R600 mem­ber­ship fee to the King Ed­ward As­so­ci­a­tion was vol­un­tary and went to­wards as­sist­ing with the ad­min­is­tra­tive costs and the run­ning of the alumni of­fice.

“The as­so­ci­a­tion, through var­i­ous ini­tia­tives, as­sists with the school­ing of boys and their fam­i­lies who are not able to af­ford fees.”

Cooper Col­lege, a private school in Rand­burg, re­quires R200 for a credit check of prospec­tive par­ents plan­ning to en­rol their child at the school.

The school said in a state­ment that pro­cess­ing credit checks bore costs, adding: “We pass the above costs, as well as the rel­e­vant staffing and ad­min­is­tra­tive costs, on to the ap­pli­cant. En­rol­ment in our school is not manda­tory.”

Com­ment­ing on a non­re­fund­able de­vel­op­ment levy of R20 900 that will be charged for new pupils en­ter­ing Grade 10, the prin­ci­pal of Fran­schhoek’s Bridge House, Mike Rus­sell, said the school was not sub­sidised.

“Sundry fundrais­ers dot­ted through the year apart, the school’s sole in­come stream to cover run­ning costs is through tuition and board­ing fees. We are also a rel­a­tively young school, so deep en­dow­ments and strong alumni fi­nan­cial sup­port re­main some­thing for the fu­ture at this stage.”

Gaut­eng education MEC Panyaza Le­sufi ad­mit­ted schools were “feel­ing the pinch” be­cause of the tough eco­nomic cli­mate.

“But schools must also not take ad­van­tage of the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion by try­ing to be­come a quick buck-mak­ing scheme.”

He said his depart­ment re­ceived an ad­di­tional R40-mil­lion last week to “bail out” 39% of the prov­ince’s schools, which were in dan­ger of hav­ing their elec­tric­ity and wa­ter cut be­cause of un­paid bills.

Ba­sic education depart­ment spokesman Troy Martens said it was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of school gov­ern­ing bod­ies to set school fees.

“This is re­ally one of the rea­sons why it is so im­por­tant for par­ents to par­tic­i­pate in school gov­ern­ing body ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Paul Colditz, CEO of the Fed­er­a­tion of Gov­ern­ing Bod­ies of South African Schools, said it was re­ceiv­ing feed­back that fee in­creases would be lower than in pre­vi­ous years be­cause of the eco­nomic down­turn.

“We es­ti­mate that par­ents paid R15-bil­lion in school fees this year.”

Le­bo­gang Mon­t­jane, executive director of the In­de­pen­dent Schools As­so­ci­a­tion of South­ern Africa, said it was a global trend that fee in­creases at private schools were above in­fla­tion.

“By in­ter­na­tional stan­dards our fees are ac­tu­ally low. How­ever, . . . we have quite sig­nif­i­cant fee ranges so you can find an in­de­pen­dent school that can suit your pocket.”

Pic­ture: Esa Alexan­der

In the face of se­vere wa­ter re­stric­tions in the West­ern Cape, Bish­ops Dioce­san Col­lege in Cape Town will in­clude a R900 sur­charge in pupils’ fees next year to help pay for a R3.8-mil­lion wa­ter treat­ment pro­ject so that the school can get clean wa­ter from three bore­holes on its prop­erty. Prin­ci­pal Guy Pear­son, in front, says the school will not be us­ing mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter from the end of May, which will save a lot of money. The school’s wa­ter bill for this year is ex­pected to be R1.8-mil­lion. With Pear­son at the reser­voir are, from front to back, Jer­maine Lwande, Uzuko Mny­ombolo and Keenan Mills.

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