Parents still distrust free schools

2011-01-20 00:00

NO-FEE schools currently account for more than half of all South African schools in the country, but because of the stigma often associated with these schools, research has found that people who should be sending their children to these schools still prefer to send them to paying schools.

That is one of the interesting findings of the latest educational research by the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), expected to be released next week.

The survey has also confirmed that the chances of passing matric are much greater for those pupils who attended a former Model C school.

According to SAIRR researcher Marius Roodt, no-fee schools make up 55% of all South African public schools and account for about 43% of all pupils attending public schools.

The Eastern Cape leads with the most no-fee schools of all provinces with 3 699 schools, 65% of all schools there.

KZN has about 3 099 no fee-schools accommodating 1,2 million pupils or 42% of the KZN school population.

Roodt told The Witness that research for their annual South Africa Survey is a statistical and analytical compendium of socio-economic issues in South Africa.

He said he was not at all surprised at the finding since there is a perception that no-fee schools are of inferior quality to those school that pay fees.

“The government in 2008 set itself a target of ensuring that 60% of all public schools would become no-fee schools over the medium term. However, there have been question marks around no-fee schools. Anecdotal evidence indicates that people who are entitled to send their children to no-fee schools still prefer to send them to schools which require pupils to pay fees.”

While Roodt said it will be difficult to correct the perception, he believes the department can ensure that the standards in no-fee schools are high.

“The department needs to ensure that the education that children get at no-fee schools is satisfactory and that it is comparable to that which is available in fee-paying schools,” he said.

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