What SA’s top schools will charge next year
Levies for this and ‘donations’ for that add to the burden parents must bear
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.”
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.