Model C school fees go up

2010-12-13 00:00

SCHOOL fees for former model C schools in Pietermaritzburg are set to increase by at least 10% next year, but the fees for most township schools will remain the same.

The Witness contacted several public schools whose fees range from R100 to R20 300 per annum. While the increases at most schools in the northern suburbs will be minimal, for some former Model C schools the increases will be as much as R2 000.

Among the schools contacted, many said the payment of fees remains a big challenge.

This has forced them to start looking at alternative ways of generating money just to stay afloat.

Russell High School remains the cheapest among former model C schools next year at R5 740, a R600 increase from this year.

Headmistress Jean Rose said that in past years the school has tried to keep fees as low possible since its pupils come from different socio-economic backgrounds.

She said rocketing electricity tariffs as well as the changes to the curriculum, which require additional teachers and computers for subjects like computer application, influenced the decision.

The increase at Russell last year was only R100.

Alexandra High School has a R1 000 fee increase next year, which headmaster Andrew Graaf believes is a good bargain for the quality of education it offers.

Graaf said the process of recovering school fees is an ongoing battle.

“We understand that the cost of living is high and parents have other responsibilities like putting food on the table and petrol. But the reality is that schools survive on school fees.”

Graaf said the school has had to write off R2 million in rebates this year alone. For alterations such as tiling, the school has to conduct fundraising drives such as cake sales.

He said that resorting to attorneys to collect unpaid fees is a last resort as the school always tries to accommodate parents who struggle to pay.

Fees will increase from R11 900 to R13 400 at Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School, while pupils at Carter High will pay R14 080, up from R12 800. Lezil Smith, the business manager at Carter, said the fees include of books and stationery.

As for the recovery of fees, she said, the approach is to accommodate parents.

“Firstly, we offer exemption according to standards set by the department of Education.”

She said 10% of the pupil population receives exemption.

“But many times by just sitting and talking to parents, you find that it’s not that they don’t want to pay.

They are maybe embarrassed to say they have a problem. And maybe by extending a payment period you would have solved the problem.

“But we also look at other creative ways to generate money by partnering with local businesses,” said Smith.

Deccan Road Primary and Raisethorpe Secondary, both considered to be elite schools in the northern areas, will be increasing their fees by R175 and R280 respectively.

Deccan Road will next year charge R1 475 while Raisethorpe will move to R2 000 from the R1 720 charged for the past two years.

Rajayshree Maistry, finance officer at Raisethorpe, said informal settlements are a big feeder for the many schools in the northern suburbs.

Many of the pupils receive concessions since their parents have lost their jobs with the closing of many of the shoe factories in the area.

The Witness understands there are 3 513 no-fee schools in the province, mostly in rural areas, with some in townships.

While Fezokuhle Senior Primary School in Imbali unit 18 charges R100 for school fees for the year, its plight is no different.

The principal, Bhekani Nkwanyana, said raising school fees would not be feasible since most of its pupils are either orphaned or are raised by young mothers or grandparents.

Nkwanyana said about 70 percent of the parents are unemployed.

The school has adopted an innovative way of helping struggling parents. Instead of hiring contractors, parents who cannot pay are called upon to paint or do other menial jobs. Parents are also asked to tend the school garden as payment in kind.

 

TEXT BOX

2011 fees

•Maritzburg College-R22 700.

•Merchiston Preparatory School–R17 500

•Carter High School–R14 080

•Pietermaritzburg Girls High School-R13 400

•Voortrekker Hoerskool-R13 200

•Laddsworth Primary School-R12 700

•Linpark High School-R10 500

•Alexandra High School-R9 900

•Longmarket Girls’ School-R7 700

•Russell High School-R5 740

•Raisethorpe-R2 000

•Deccan Road-R1 475

•Sukuma High School-R700

•Fezokuhle Senior Primary-R100

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