Free schools do worse, says researcher

2012-07-24 00:00

THE proportion of schools that do not charge school fees increased from 55% in 2008 to 60% two years later, an overall rise of nine percent, according to the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR).

The Free State had the highest proportion of schools that did not charge fees in 2010 (83%), overtaking Limpopo, which had the highest proportion in 2008 (71%).

But there are concerns that these schools do not offer quality education. SAIRR said the increase was due to the government’s policy to make education widely available to the poorest of the poor, according to data sourced from the Department of Basic Education and Statistics South Africa.

SAIRR researcher Jonathan Snyman told The Witness that better-resourced schools werelike brands.

“While expanding access to education in poor communities is necessary, there is evidence that schools that do not charge for tuition do not perform as well academically when compared to schools that charge relatively low school fees.

“Because of this, the rise in schools that do not charge for tuition needs to be accompanied by the provision of quality education …”

Snyman urged provincial education departments to grant an appropriate budget to schools to improve standards. School fees could be used, for instance, to buy photocopy machines and other equipment.

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