Cape Town - Parents of pupils at Northpine Technical High School are furious after they were informed they would have to fork out R1000 to rent textbooks for the year.
Despite the Western Cape Education Department confirming all the children received books, parents said on Sunday their children were still not issued books even though the school year is already in its third week.
School fees are R7500 for 2019 and the parents, who are from poor communities, say they were not informed of this additional charge beforehand.
The parents say they were present at the school’s budget meeting in 2018 and no mention was made of renting textbooks.
A 33-year-old mother says she was shocked last Wednesday when she was told she must pay R1000 upfront to get her child’s government-issued textbooks.
Two mothers spoke to the Daily Voice anonymously for fear that their children would be victimised.
“We were never told that we would have to pay R1000 upfront to rent their textbooks. I have more than one child at the school and we already struggle to pay their school fees,” the mom says.
“Most parents I know at the school are single parents who are struggling and sacrificing for that R7500 already.
“We have spoken to the school’s governing body, but that was hopeless.
“I tried making numerous appointments with the principal, but he is always too busy to see me.”
A 46-year-old mother says her husband is unemployed and there is no way she can come up with an extra R1000 now.
“I am a contract worker and my employment could be terminated at any time. This is the first time the school has done anything like this,” she says.
“We were taken by surprise and are not able to come up with that money. My child does not have books yet.”
Western Cape Education Department spokesperson, Bronagh Hammond, says the school is within its rights to ask for a deposit, but says children who cannot afford the fee must still get their textbooks.
“Every year thousands of textbooks go missing in the system due to learners either not returning them to their schools or they go missing,” Hammond explains.
“Therefore, schools have various retrieval processes in place in order to ensure that as many textbooks are kept in the system so as to avoid additional costs the next year.
“Schools pay for textbooks using their norms and standards funding, and it is a big strain for some schools when textbook costs are high due to low retrieval.
“No learner can, however, be denied a textbook because the school is expecting payment.
“In the case of Northpine, the school requested that parents pay a deposit which would be returned at the end of the year when the books are returned.
“Parents who could not afford the deposit were asked to write to the school and indicate they were unable to do so. Those learners were issued with textbooks.
“If there is a case whereby a learner has been denied access to a textbook because of funds from the parent, then they should report this to the district office and we will investigate.”