Parents who wonder if they can skip paying school fees in the context of Covid-enforced longer school breaks have been categorically given the answer: they must pay up.
Speaking on Sunday, basic education minister Angie Motshekga said that this was one of the “frequently asked” questions the department was confronted with.
“It is important to clarify this matter. There are two types of public schools in the country, the fee-paying schools and no-fee paying schools. Fee-paying schools are allowed to charge school fees, as determined at the annual general meeting of the SGB [school governing body]. Therefore, the payment of school fees in such schools is mandatory,” she said.
Motshekga added that fee-paying schools “have the authority to enforce parents to pay school fees through legal means”.
“The liability of parents is determined through an affordability formula, which can be used to determine whether a parent can be exempted partially or fully from paying school fees.
“There are other instances where parents are unable [to pay] because of the impact of the virus … because this decision is taken by SGB, they should make representations to the school to make sure that the necessary procedures and protocols are followed,” the minister said.
Motshekga said another concern is that schools are reportedly charging parents registration deposits, and others are “charging parents exorbitant amounts” to pay staff bonuses.
“We must advise schools to avoid such temptations, as the first is illegal and the second is completely unreasonable, especially as it is done and enforced under the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
by Matthew Savides