Cape schools feel the pinch
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Cape Town - Fee-charging schools in the Western Cape are feeling the pinch as parents battle to pay fees with some schools appealing to the provincial education department for help.
Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesman Paddy Attwell said some schools in quintiles 4 and 5 had asked the department that they be declared no-fee schools and others have requested their quintile rankings to be changed.
In terms of national policy, provincial departments classify schools in five categories called quintiles, based on the relative poverty of the surrounding community.
The poorest schools are in quintile 1, the least poor in quintile 5 and schools in quintiles 1 to 3 do not charge fees.
Schools in quintile 5 receive R193 per pupil on average (for this year) from government, which is 17.3 percent of the allocation to no-fee schools.
In 2013 the WCED invited more than 200 fee charging schools to apply for no-fee status. A total of 216 schools accepted the offer.
The department made the offer to schools that charged annual schools fee of R400 or less.
“The WCED made the offer because many schools in quintiles 4 and 5, serving poor communities, were struggling to collect school fees.”
Attwell said since then there had been more schools in quintiles 4 and 5 that had asked to be declared no-fee schools.
“However, further invitations to apply will depend on available budget.”
He said the intervention was not the only measure the department used to help schools struggling financially, or struggling to collect school fees.
One of the other measures was equalising allocations where fees were less than that allocated to no-fee schools per pupil.
This means topping up funds of fee charging schools to ensure that they receive at least the same funding per pupil as a no-fee school, namely, R1 116 in 2015/16.
Schools could also apply for compensation from the department in cases where they had granted parents fee exemptions.
The department has introduced all of these measures to help poor parents and to help schools struggling financially.
The Department of Basic Education previously indicated that it was reviewing the quintile system.
The Department of Basic Education determines the percentage of schools that provinces must allocate to each quintile based on census figures from StatsSA.
In terms of national policy, the Western Cape may only classify 8.6 percent of schools as quintile 1 schools, compared to the Eastern Cape with 27.3 percent.