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DA warns KwaZulu-Natal school principals not to withhold report cards over unpaid fees

By Harvest Thwala Time of article published Dec 7, 2021

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The DA has called on the Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal to warn school principals not to withhold progress reports over unpaid fees.

This comes after several parents reportedly raised complaints with the DA over the withholding of report cards due to non-payment of school fees, not returning textbooks or both.

In a statement, the DA said school principals should immediately be notified by KZN Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu’s office that such practice is deemed illegal.

The DA said it understands that there has to be a balance between arranging to pay school fees by parents and the school’s responsibility to collect these, but parents cannot be strong-armed into doing so, particularly since it is unlawful to do so.

The regulations stated in Section 25(12) and Section 25(13) of the National Protocol on Assessment 2011 apply to both public and independent schools from Grade R to 12. Section 25(12) states that the parents or guardians have the right of access to the report cards of their children. Section 25(13) states that schools may not withhold report cards from learners for any reason whatsoever.

“We know that many parents have fallen on hard times given the recent massive job losses. We also acknowledge that schools are obliged to collect fees to ensure their own financial health. Principals and school governing bodies must allow parents/guardians to enter into payment agreements and acknowledgements of debt to recover funds. Compromise is key if we are to ensure the education of our young people,” said the DA.

Meanwhile, Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Millicent Merton has said the department is appealing to principals and governing bodies to be tolerant of parents who could not afford to pay school fees this year due to the impact of the pandemic.

“Principals are reminded that it is unlawful to withhold report cards or transfer certificates because parents are unable to pay school fees. It is incumbent upon the governing body, as chief custodian of the school’s finances and policies, to act in terms of the South African Schools Act (SASA),” she said.

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