Teachers' jobs at risk as parents cannot afford school fees due to lockdown
Teacher unions urged SGBs to contact parents and urge them to pay school fees, saying no school could function on “promises and good intentions”.
The unions said school fees enabled the provision of a better service to pupils, parents and the community, and some teachers and staff depended on school fees.
The chief executive of the SA Teachers Union, Chris Klopper, said the union had noted that in addition to problems arising from the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, public schools were experiencing major problems because many parents had stopped paying school fees.
Klopper said the reasons given were that some parents believed it was not necessary to pay school fees if a school did not provide services, while others argued they were employed in the business sector and their ability to generate income was impaired.
“The union is well aware of the direct relationship between parents’ income patterns and the ability to pay school fees. Sincere understanding is recorded for those cases where such payment has become impossible. But, a very serious call is made on parents to pay school fees whenever possible,” Klopper said.
He said the ability of schools to appoint and continue to pay teaching staff was directly determined by the receipt of school fees.
“School fees are of the utmost importance for schools to provide an even better service to learners, parents and the community. Teaching staff in the service of the school are an incredible asset and allow schools to fulfil their service to the community. This asset cannot simply be allowed to be lost,” he said.
National Teachers Union president Allen Alan Thompson said schools and their management should hold discussions with parents who were unable to pay fees, to come to an understanding.
Thompson said the situation should "not be abused" and parents and institutions needed to be transparent with each other.
Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the WCED had encouraged parents to pay school fees, where possible.
Hammond said many schools relied on the collection of school fees to pay SGB staff, and “therefore it is imperative for them to continue to collect funds”.
She said it was understandable that many parents experienced a loss of income during the lockdown. “Parents who have been laid off or had contracts cancelled and are unemployed can apply for fee-exemption.”
It was important that parents qualifying for fee-exemption completed the necessary forms as the forms were sent to the department by schools when they applied for fee-compensation.
“In terms of compensation for fee exemption, 556 schools submitted successful claims for a total of 86 964 pupils, amounting to R58 382 million for fee-compensation for the 2018 school year.”
She said the 2019 applications would be paid this year, and 2020 applications in 2021.
Hammond said 97% of fee-paying schools applied for compensation.@SISONKE_MD