More Mpuma schools could be no-fee

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Acornhoek - The Mpumalanga Education Department is considering increasing the number of no-fee schools in the province.

Provincial education spokesperson, Jasper Zwane, said the department classified schools from Quintile 1 to 5 based on the recommendation of circuit managers. Quintile 1 and 2 schools are situated in the poorest communities and have been declared no-fee schools.

But, the department could now include Quintile 3 schools into this category.

"At the moment, we're still in discussions about classifying Quintile 3 schools as no-fee schools," Mr Zwane said.

Parents at one Mpumalanga high school have refused to pay school fees this year, arguing that parents at other schools in their area are not paying fees.

Parents at Shobiyane High School in Acornhoek, northern Mpumalanga, say too many parents at other schools in the Greenvalley education circuit were failing to pay fees.

"We don't know why we have to pay when other parents are not paying," said Elias Ngwenya.

One teacher, Daniel Sithole, said most parents think the school is robbing them of their hard-earned cash.

"But this school is classified as Quintile 3, meaning it is not regarded as poor, but that parents are believed to be able to afford the school fees," he said.

Mr Sithole said that Shobiyane High School recognised that not all its children came from comfortable homes.

As a result, fees were not charged for some children.

"We have 97 orphans who are not paying school fees and the number is still growing," said Mr Sithole.

He said the school was trying to get the department to reclassify the school and give it either Quintile 1 or 2 status, because the school is situated in a poor community.

Quintile 1 and 2 schools also benefit from government's school feeding scheme, which ensures that children from poor families get a decent meal at school.

"Currently, 950 schools in the province are no fees schools," Mr Zwane said.

There are altogether five quintiles. Quintiles 3 to 5 charge school fees, with Quintile 5 being the most expensive where parents contribute more to the school's finances.