Principals take out loans to save schools - claim

2012-10-02 21:54
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Johannesburg - Some independent school principals took out personal loans to keep their schools afloat because state subsidies were not paid, a school association said on Tuesday.

"Principals take out personal loans to pay teacher salaries, and often approach loan sharks to keep afloat," said the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (Isasa).

Executive director Jane Hofmeyr told reporters in Johannesburg: "The government's regulatory environment has become more disabling for independent schools, making it impossible for them to survive."

The survival of the low and mid-fee paying independent schools was "severely" under threat.

Subsidies should cover at least 50% of the schools' budgets. At least 630 schools and 130 000 pupils were affected.

"In such situations the day-to-day running of the schools suffer and they ultimately have to close down," said Hofmeyr.

Municipalities treated the schools as commercial entities and not as non profit organisations.

"We had to approach courts for relief, especially in Mpumalanga where municipalities charge schools unreasonable, exorbitant amounts, [for rates and taxes] threatening their sustainability."

Isasa is a member of the National Alliance of Independent Schools Associations of Southern Africa (Niasa), which had asked the Public Protector to investigate the payment of school subsidies in five provinces.

The complaints were against Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga.

Hofmeyr said Niasa was still awaiting word from Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on whether she would investigate.

The alliance had also filed papers at the Constitutional Court against the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government after it lost a case in the High Court in Durban.

The Constitutional Court would hear the matter for the first time in November, said Hofmeyr.

Hofmeyr said it was difficult to say how much the provincial governments owed the schools.

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