File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - PAUL Naidoo, a Chatsworth principal, has joined the chorus of calls from educators and parents to the Department of Education to scrap its quintile ranking system which determines the extent to which the government funds each school.

The KZN Department of Education acknowledges the system,which was introduced in 1998 to improve education equity, was “not fair” and has raised its concerns with its national office and awaits a way forward.

“Given our financial challenges, I’m not sure how we will continue providing quality education or even keep our doors open in the new year, ” said Naidoo.

According to the quintile system, Naidoo said, they suffered because the school had water on tap, electricity and tarred roads at its premises in Bayview. Due to the school’s good infrastructure, it was given a quintile ranking of 5.

The ranking meant the school required far lesser government funding compared with schools in rural areas, which usually had quintile rankings between 1 and 3, and parents could be charged school fees.

However, 80% of the school’s 505 pupils live in the nearby shack settlement or municipal flats, and their mostly unemployed parents and guardians are unable to pay school fees.

Naidoo said it needed almost R450 000 annually to run the school. This year they received R86 000 (R170 per pupil) from the department, in accordance with their quintile ranking, and collected a meagre R40 000 in school fees. The school also earned around R60 000 rental income from tenants.

“We have financial shortfalls every year.  That’s the reason we were nearly R300 000 in arrears with our municipal lights and water bill and those services were almost disconnected. Mayor Zandile Gumede intervened and we were given a grace period, but have still to settle it.”
Given the dynamics at his school, Naidoo said Summerfield’s quintile ranking should have been 3.

“That would ensure we received R900 per pupil (R450 000), which would enable us to easily afford and improve our standard of education.”

An educator from a school in Newlands, who asked not to be named, said they were also left short-changed by their quintile ranking of 5.

“The bulk of our pupils are also from disadvantaged areas and their parents struggle to pay the R1 000 school fees. We only receive about 30% of the fees from the more than 1 000 pupils. We are challenged. We have written to the department and asked for a review of the quintile ranking system.”

Kwazi Mthethwa, spokesperson for KZN Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane, said his department was concerned about how the ranking system affected schools.

“It seems like some schools were targeted, but this ranking problem exists in all parts of KZN.  We need to consult further with all the stakeholders in our national department to ensure that our schools receive the funding they deserve,” Mthethwa said.

He agreed that the location and infrastructure of schools should not be the only determining factors to rank schools.

Vee Gani, chairperson of KZN Parents’ Association, said the department was dragging its feet with the quintile system because it did not have the money to fund schools further.

Sunday Tribune