The Western Cape government under the Democratic Alliance has extended a helping hand to a growing number of parents who could not afford to pay school fees of their wards.
In its bid to mitigate the effects of the quintile system, the Western Cape Education Department WCED has this year, made over R50 million available to assist Quintile 4 and 5 schools who are struggling to collect school fees from parents.
This, according to the DA was to help parents who find it difficult to pay school fees amid economic tough times that put a massive financial strain on fee-paying schools relying on the collection of fees to sustain their daily running costs.
“Many of the schools in the Western Cape are classified as Quintile 4 and 5 schools (fee paying), which are supposed to be wealthy, but the reality is that they are attended by a large number of poorer learners. In some instances, these schools should actually be classified as Quintile 1-3 schools (no-fee schools). The National Quintile system and concomitant funding do not allow this, which shows the flawed nature of this system,” explained the DA government in the Western Cape.
Report shows that there are currently about 574 public ordinary fee-paying schools in the Western Cape but this year, the WCED will be paying out fee compensation to 554 of these schools.
“This means that the WCED is assisting 96.5% of fee-paying schools. Compensation for school fee exemptions is made available retrospectively for the previous school year, e.g. compensation paid in 2017 is for exemptions granted in the 2016 school year.”
This comes amid criticism of the President Jacob Zuma’s populist free higher education plan, which will cost the country about R40 billion.
The Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has however announced that the fee-free university education will go ahead despite a growing fear that this would plunge the country into an economic crisis.
The Heher Commission into the Feasibility of Fee-Free Higher Education and Training has earlier announced that the funding of the free education will not push through due to lack of sufficient financial capacity in the state.
But, Gigaba, in his reply to the debate in the National Assembly on the Adjustments Appropriation Bill and the medium-term budget policy, said that President Jacob Zuma was already looking into the report.
The minister also urged concerned authorities to be wary of whatever decision is taken on higher education fees, in order to avoid chaos in the budget process.