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Johannesburg - Parents of pupils at Letsatsing Combined School - a no-fee school in Carletonville - and the Gauteng Department of Education are at loggerheads over school fees that parents want back.
In July, Cynthia Masela blew the whistle on the no-fee school demanding of fees.
The allegation was that if parents failed to pay up, the school withheld their children’s reports, which is illegal.
The school was declared a no-fee school in 2010, and offers grades R to 12. Parents with children in Grade R were required to pay R150 a month.
Fees for grades 1 to 12, which were paid annually, increased as the child rose up the grades, with Grade 12s’ parents being required to pay R960 a year.
In addition to these fees, parents whose children wanted to take up a computer subject were required to pay R500 to use the school’s computer lab.
When these allegation first surfaced, the department launched an investigation.
The probe found that parents had decided “to make voluntary contributions for the upkeep and maintenance of the school as well as paying for extra cleaning staff”.
However, parents who spoke to The Star disputed this, saying they were given the impression that it was compulsory for them to pay the fees.
They are now demanding that their money be returned.
Some parents said they had taken out loans to have their children’s school reports released after they were withheld because of non-payment.
“How can the investigation be over when we haven’t received our money back?” Masela asked.
Department spokesman Gershwin Chuenyane maintained that the investigation has been wrapped up.
“Part of the recommendations was that contribution to the school fund had to be reviewed, and parents agreed,” he said.
Chuenyane said issues of how the school would generate its funding in future would be discussed at the school governing body’s upcoming annual general meeting.
Previously, public schools were divided into five quintiles or categories. Poor schools had a low quintile ranking, while more resourced schools had a higher ranking.
The quintile rankings determined how much funding schools received from the government, with the lowest receiving more government funding and higher-ranked schools less.
A new ranking system that was introduced in 2011 saw schools being divided into just two categories - fee-paying and no-fee schools.
Schools that fell under the no-fee category were schools that were previously in quintiles 1 to 3, and they receive more funding.
Schools that are now in the fee-paying category were previously in quintiles 4 and 5 and they receive less funding.
Gauteng has 1 237 no-fee schools that cater for 64 percent of the province’s pupils. These schools receive an allocation of R1 010 for each child.