No-fee school status extended

2008-05-20 00:00

THE provincial Education Department will, from next year, extend the no-fee status to schools currently ranked as quintile three schools, MEC Ina Cronje told the provincial legislature’s Education portfolio committee yesterday.

Currently, the no-fee schools are only those in quintile one and two.

All schools are currently ranked into five quintile categories. A school’s ranking is determined by the relative poverty of its surrounding community, which depends on individual and household incomes.

Those in quintile one are regarded as the most poor, while the ones in quintile five are in the most affluent communities.

Cronje, however, said she was aware of some discrepancies in the quintile rating process, adding that she has received a number of requests from several schools throughout the province asking for a review of their rankings.

“For example, some of the schools cannot cope because they are situated in areas that are believed to be well off while they draw most of their pupils from informal settlements.

Even some of the schools that are in townships close to big cities find themselves in a similar situation. This has created a lot of problems. The ideal situation here would be the provision of free education for all,” she said.

Cronje called on all members of the public to report no-fee schools that are still charging fees. She was responding to some concerns from committee members on the unscrupulous behaviour by some schools.

Meanwhile, Cronje also expressed concern at the huge infrastructure backlog facing her department. To address the backlog, she said, the department would need about R25 billion, while only R1,4 billion is available in the 2008/09 budget.

She said that while her department has begun constructing administration blocks, libraries and media centres at some schools, this was not enough.

“While this is good and appreciated, it is certainly just a drop in the ocean. We will have to do more than this,” she said.

Senzo Mchunu, the chairman of the portfolio committee, said the issue of infrastructure backlog needed to be drummed up so that the national government is made aware of the plight facing the KZN Education Department.

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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