Johannesburg - The Gauteng legislature has ordered the provincial Department of Education to probe the “skewed funding” of independent schools occupying office blocks in the Joburg CBD.

The order came from the legislature’s education portfolio committee, which reported on Friday that it had found that some independent schools operating in the CBD received unequal funding from the Gauteng Department of Education.

Committee chairwoman Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane disclosed this in the legislature on Friday.

She said the schools, situated in office blocks, were mostly used by black pupils “desperate to find substitutes for dysfunctional township schools”.

Nkosi-Malobane added: “Although some schools are doing well in terms of Grade 12 pass rates, others are not. Others are exploitative fly-by-nights (that deprive) both the students and their parents of fees that they can ill afford.

“The schools also contain a fast-growing number of unregistered independent schools, which are often called fly-by-nights because of the poor education they provide and the way they tend to appear and disappear without notice.”

She said her committee had visited some of the schools and found that some were underfunded.

Nkosi-Malobane said the Education Department was subsidising Supreme College, with fewer than 500 pupils, to the tune of R2 million annually, while a similar school, Vector College, was given an annual amount of R297 000.

She said some school principals had asked to be provided with the same support as ordinary public schools because they did not have sufficient resources to facilitate normal teaching and learning.

The committee said the majority of pupils came from Orange Farm, Pretoria, Tembisa, Kempton Park, Soweto and the West Rand, and used public transport to attend school.

“The infrastructure at Vector College and Supreme College was found to be acceptable, and the environment was fairly conducive to effective teaching and learning.

“However, there are no playgrounds,” the committee noted.

Nkosi-Malobane said that of concern was the lack of functional lifts at the schools. She said pupils with disabilities were excluded.

The Department of Education was told to probe conditions at Metropolitan College and report back.

In response, Gauteng Department of Education spokesman Charles Phahlane said the independent schools were funded properly according to the maximum annual school fees charged per pupil.

He said the department had established a task team whose primary duty was to close down all fly-by-night schools that refused to register.

Phahlane said the department was currently dealing with 11 illegal schools.

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The Star