PARENTS NEED TO BE SURE SCHOOL IS NOT BOGUS
CHOOSING the right school for your child is an important decision that takes plenty of time and research. That is why every year in January and February parents scramble for last-minute places in schools, either for their children to repeat the subjects they failed or just to get space in a preferred school.
Although registration of children for the new school calendar closes at the end of September, schools are usually flooded with thousands of last-minute attempts to register children during and until March of the next year.
When everything else fails, some parents resort to taking their children to any school they come across, some of the schools may be illegal and unaccredited or fly-bynight centres who market themselves as independent institutions.
The word independent may be attractive, but what are independent schools?
Independent schools are a cluster of different types of schools that represent an alternative to public schools. Parents often choose these for a number of reasons.
Some schools’ curricula are based on qualifications and some have different educational views, and some have particular views on character development. Some schools are established in protest of particular policies in public schools; for example, parents may prefer small schools to larger schools.
The independent primary schools are allowed autonomy on all matters according to the school’s core values, although final exams are carried out according to the public school guidelines and requirements. They are all administered under the same law, and the schools are subject to inspection.
From the performance perspective, independent schools seem very successful, and thus represent a challenge to the public school system. Part of the success of independent schools is that they have very clear goals about what they want for the children, excellent teachers, and a strong school-parent relationship. What seems to contribute to the independent schools’ success is the socioeconomic status of the children.
Independent schools offer a wealth of facilities and high teaching standards that enable students to achieve great results year after year. They are in the unique position to provide a truly bespoke education for a student.
It is a pity that bogus schools spring up, particularly at this time of the year, and take advantage of desperate parents and pupils with false promises of decent education.
I have met students and parents who were duped, unaware their college was operating illegally, yet they were paying R1 000 a month.
Illegal schools and colleges are a major problem in that after years of study, students graduate and are issued with certificates which are useless and not recognised.
Therefore, parents need to exercise due prudence and thoroughly check whether or not the schools are registered with the Gauteng department of education (GDE) before they register their children, to avoid being swindled.
It is, however, not easy for parents to verify the credentials of these institutions due to lack of both expertise and information.
The media is flooded with their adverts and exquisite prospectuses are distributed. Sometimes education officials are invited to grace these promotional events – giving an impression of legitimacy.
The GDE does not encourage pupils to go to alternative schools, but recognises them if they are registered and are in compliance with all municipal by-laws:
A standing procedure for dealing with bogus schools, once they are uncovered, is that the GDE together with members of the School Safety Stakeholder Forum formed by the GDE, SAPS, Emergency Management Services, Environmental Health Practitioners, Liquor Board and Metro police, conduct a full blitz to close them down and arrest the owners.
Otherwise, registered schools must be accredited by Umalusi, the education quality assurance regulatory body established in terms of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Education and Training Act No 28 of 2012.
All registered independent schools must have the following all compliance documents issued by the municipality where they are located: health certificate; fire certificate; certificate of occupancy; and zoning certificate.
Curriculum and assessment monitoring and support is provided by the district offices at independent schools as well.
The exams and assessment directorate ensures quality in examination processes.
As the department, we use our expertise to root out illegal education institutions.
In addition, discerning fraudulent acts perpetrated by unqualified or unlicensed education institutions are the ultimate responsibility of everyone in our country.
We should act in unison to eradicate rogue, bogus and detrimental institutions.
“All schools must be accredited by Umalusi
The Gauteng MEC for education is warning parents against bogus schools, saying they will lose their money.