Free education for 1,8 million pupils in KZN

2013-03-14 00:00

MORE than 644 000 pupils in quintile three schools in KwaZulu-Natal will no longer pay school fees.

Schools in quintiles one to three will now fall under the “no-fee-paying schools”.

The quintile ranking system, which categorises schools in terms of their fee structure, will be scrapped at the end of the financial year, said the MEC for Education, Senzo Mchunu.

He was speaking at an education portfolio committee meeting in the provincial legislature on Tuesday.

As of April 1, schools in quintiles one to three will be known as “no-fee-paying schools”, while quintiles four to five will continue to pay fees.

Quintile one currently indicates the poorest schools and five the richest. More money is allocated to poorer schools.

There are more than 2,6 million pupils in the province and about 1,8 million of them will not pay fees.

Mchunu said the ultimate goal was to work towards changing the funding model.

“We’re looking at the model outside the quintile system and we’re not yet there,” he admitted.

Mchunu said research had shown that the quintile system did work as a model; the only problem was that it “confused people”.

“You find a school is in quintile one and on the other side of the road another school is quintile two. It was confusing.”

Mchunu told the committee members that ordinary people knew little about the system and the only people who were familiar with it were officials in the department.

“There were not too many questions … But people have now come to understand the system and come with questions. The more they ask questions, the more we’re short of answers,” Mchunu said.

Democratic Alliance MPL Tom Stokes said he had had numerous complaints from quintile five schools when some pupils could not afford school fees. ANC MPL Sipho Nkosi said there were no major differences between the first three quintiles, bearing in mind the circumstances of these schools.

The national Department of Education told The Witness that “through this process of review it has been established that although the quintile system has been largely effective in ensuring that funding to schools is distributed equitably, due to developments since its design, it is not as accurate for determining the school funding allocation as it should be”. The department said most provinces were still adapting to the de-linking of school allocations from the quintile system.

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