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Cape Town - Millions of rand will be made available from next year to assist fee-charging schools in the Western Cape that are battling financially.
Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for Education MEC Donald Grant, said about R35 million would be made available in the 2014/15 financial year to assist 319 fee-charging schools serving less affluent communities.
Schools have been divided into five categories, called quintiles, with the poorest schools in quintile 1 and the least poor schools in quintile 5.
Schools in quintiles 1 to 3 do not charge fees and receive annual funding of R1 010 a pupil. Schools in quintiles 4 and 5 charge fees, but Casey said in some cases the fees they were able collect and funding received from the department amounted to less than R1 010 a pupil.
This left some of these schools struggling financially.
Casey said that in order to close this gap, additional funds were made available to 311 affected schools in the 2013/14 financial year. R18m was made available for this purpose.
In the 2014/15 financial year, this amount would increase to R35m, and 319 schools would benefit.
The Department of Basic Education has been reviewing the quintile system.
Jonavon Rustin, provincial secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers Union, said the union wanted “compulsory free schooling”.
He said the union welcomed the initiative to provide assistance to fee-charging schools that needed support.
Rustin said disparities in schools in terms of human resources and infrastructure also had to be addressed.
Meanwhile, the Basic Education Department said on Sunday that the closing date for public comment on the 30 percent minimum matric pass mark was October 6.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was considering raising the 30 percent pass mark for matrics and wanted the public’s advice, department spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said.
“We are still receiving a lot of input from the public, but at this stage we don't have the exact numbers of how many people participated,” he said.
The department called on the South African public to comment on whether the current pass mark was enough to equip pupils for success in the higher education sector.
“The ministerial committee will have to put together a report which will include the public comments, and the announcement is expected to be made before the end of the year,” Mhlanga said.