By Bonny Verwey

Before splurging on Christmas presents, Durban parents should bear in mind that some school fees for 2006 will increase by up to 18 percent.

Most schools contacted by The Mercury reported that fees would increase, mainly due to running costs and in keeping with the consumer price index.

Chelsea Preparatory School in Durban North would increase fees by 9,5 percent, from R8 500 a year to R9 300, said Sandy Holton, the bursar. Most of the increase would go on salaries and running costs. Colin Madgin, the principal of Penzance School in Umbilo, said fees would increase by 10,1 percent to R7 200.

Contributions by the government were insufficient for Durban High School on the Berea to maintain its standards. This prompted an 18 percent increase in school fees, a spokesperson said.

A spokesperson said the government's contribution of R105 000 a year was not nearly enough to cover salaries and running costs.

This means that parents will pay fees of R15 936 next year. The parents of pupils living in residence will pay a further R20 900.

Maris Stella, a private school on the Berea, will increase its fees, on average, by 6,5 percent.

Michael Hobden, the bursar, said fees would now range from R13 420 to R26 000. He also cited inflation and salaries for the increase.

Durban Girls' High School on the Berea would increase its fees by 10,3 percent to R9 000.

While Sastri College reported a minimal increase for the 2006 school year, deputy principal Rajan Maharaj said that the increase would only affect parents who paid after February 7 2006.

"Our school fees are R1 220 a year. For parents who pay by February 7 2006, the fees will remain the same. For parents paying in instalments, the school fees will total R1 500 for next year," he said. Menzi High School in Umlazi and Sivananda High School in Kwamashu would not increase fees.

Menzi High principal Felix Mshololo said fees would remain R265 a year for girls and R280 for boys. The R15 difference paid for the boys' ties.

Sonto Dludla, a secretary at Sivananda High, said the fee of R500 had not increased because the registration fee had already been increased from R75 to R100.

Sayed Rajack, chairperson of the Parents' Association of KZN, said he was generally "pleased" with fee structures, because many schools had tried to keep increases to a minimum. He was concerned that some schools had increased fees dramatically.

Reginald Chiliza, provincial chairperson of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, said increases were "unwelcome".

"Parents are battling," he said.