The affordable education loan option
Cape Town - Struggling parents of children in more than 200 schools in the Western Cape will be granted the opportunity for exemption from school fees, the education department said on Monday.
“We believe that this step will produce a positive reaction from these schools and, I am sure, an even greater reaction from parents who struggle to pay school fees,” education MEC Donald Grant said in a statement.
“The department has therefore offered more than 200 schools in quintiles four and five the opportunity of applying to become no-fee schools from 1 January 2014.”
Grant said the opportunity was being given to schools that charged annual fees of R400 or less.
“Essentially, this offer means that parents at over 200 schools accommodating nearly 170 000 learners could opt for their schools to become no-fee schools and will therefore now not have to pay school fees.” he said.
“They will also not have to apply for exemption from paying these fees.”
The initiative would cost the department R19 million for the remainder of the 2013/14 financial year and R46m in 2014/15, Grant said.
The schools concerned would remain in their quintile ranking and they would be required to prepare budgets and to keep records of funds received and spent in terms of the SA Schools Act.
The schools had until October 31 to inform the department of their decision.
“The department will consider offering more schools this opportunity in future as funds become available,” said Grant.
He said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced in a briefing in Parliament in September that she was planning to do away with the quintile system in favour of a two-category system.
Quintile ranking is determined according to the level of poverty of the community where a school is located, with quintile one being the poorest and quintile five the least poor.
All public schools in the country are ranked with this system.
A school's quintile ranking determines the amount of funding it gets from the national department of education and whether or not the school can charge fees.
Pupils in quintile one, two and three schools do not pay school fees.
Grant said other schools which were not selected would still qualify to receive top-up funding to 100 percent of the no-fee threshold amount of R1059 if the sum of the school fees charged and the norms and standards funding allocated was less than the threshold amount for 2014/15.
The schools could also apply for compensation for school fee exemptions granted, Grant said.