Cape Town - The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has told Parliament's portfolio committee on basic education that they plan on revisiting the quintile system for schools.
This after issues with the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) and quintiles arose in the DBE’s briefing to the committee on Wednesday.
Public schools are divided into five quintile rankings – schools in quintile one to three are "no fee-paying” schools, Quintile’s four to five schools were "fee-paying" schools. The NSNP works hand in hand by providing meals, reaching quintile 1-3 schools.
Portfolio committee chairperson, Bongiwe Pricilla Mbinqo-Gigaba, said: “What progress is made for reviewing the quintile system? I’m asking this question as some schools during the oversight visit indicated that they were incorrectly quintiled.”
DBE deputy minister, Dr Makgabo Reginah Mhaule, said they were going to revisit the issue in light of financial situations changing within the country.
Mhaule used Sinenjongo High School in Milnerton as an example, as she had conducted an oversight visit on Wednesday morning.
“They (Western Cape Education Department) did not acquire the land where the school is supposed to be. The school was built on the other side of the road, which is Milnerton. Milnerton is regarded as an affluent area. So the school was wrongly quintiled.
“It was put under quintile 4, but the learners are coming from the informal settlements,” Mhaule said.
“It has disadvantaged the learners. They come from schools where they were eating at school, but now they don’t eat.
“We said we are going to revisit the issue of quintiling of schools because really, the economic situation has changed drastically in the country.”
“The learners are coming from Dunoon and Joe Slovo, they are coming from the informal settlements. They just cross the road to the school. It has disadvantaged the learners. They don’t eat. They come from schools where they were eating at school, but now they don’t eat, but they are coming from the same environment.”
“We said we are going to revisit the issue of quintiling of schools because really, the economic situation has changed drastically in the country,” she said.
In response, the Western Cape Education MEC David Maynier said despite Sinenjongo High School being a quintile 4 school, it is a non-fee school.
Maynier explained that school feeding is provided at the school, which is funded by the NSNP grant along with other funding partners.
“Unfortunately, there was no land available in the immediate area where the learners live to construct a school, so it had to be constructed across the road,” he said.
The MEC said even if the school could have been built on the other side of the road, it would not have changed the national government’s quintile allocation to the WCED.
“The national government determines the percentage of schools in each province that may be allocated to each quintile on the basis of an overall national poverty distribution table, but unfortunately this allocation does not reflect the economic reality of our learners in the Western Cape.
“This is why we have used our own Western Cape government budget to fund 251 quintile 4 and 5 schools to be no-fee schools, based on the economic situation of their learners.”
Maynier said they also had to top up the NSNP grant from the national government with their own budget, to cover food price inflation not covered by the national grant.
The MEC did however welcome the deputy minister’s announcement that the DBE is looking at revising the quintile system.