Focus on school fees

2017-05-05 14:00
Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwana delivered his budget speech on Thursday at the legislature.

Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwana delivered his budget speech on Thursday at the legislature. (File/Jabulani Langa)

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Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwana has read the riot act to former Model C schools which he on Thursday accused of using “various forms of discrimination to remain white elephants”.

Dlungwana accused model C schools of using a “variety of limiting methods” such as charging “exorbitant” fees that are unaffordable to the working class and using waiting lists “which ordinary parents have no access to”, to exclude children from previously disadvantaged communities.

“This is tantamount to ring-fencing, hence we cannot continue with business as usual. It cannot be correct that a public school, funded by government through this department, continues to charge fees as high as R100 000 just so that a certain class of society is excluded.”

The department allocated R86 million for independent school subsidies this financial year.

“We feel that now is the time to flatten the ground and ensure that all schools are accessible even to the poor,” he said.

Delivering his budget speech on Thursday at the legislature, Dlungwana announced that his department would begin a consultation process relating to how school fees could be regulated.

“Part of our engagement may be to look at how other provinces deal with learner admission, including the best practices from Gauteng, which currently uses an online system to place learners on a first-come-first-serve basis,” he said.

NFP MPL Vikizitha Mlotshwa said the department was in deep trouble. “I must begin this debate by raising the embarrassing fact that the department cannot account for 600 000 pupils in the province.

“These pupils apparently do not have birth certificates or identity documents.

“What this means is the department receives a lower equitable share allocation than it is supposed to receive. This affects other functions such as the School Nutrition Programme as these children are not taken into consideration when the grants are allocated,” he said.

IFP MPL Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa said the department needed to conduct an assessment on the security status of the provincial schools.

“Safety in schools remains a concern. Teachers and pupils are victimised and killed within the school premises in broad daylight. The school security measures are weak,” she said.

DA MPL Rishigen Viranna said access to education in KZN had improved, but said the quality of education had not improved.

“We have a forgotten generation of youth, with matric certificates, that are not only unemployed but unemployable.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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