Tom Stokes, MPP
DA KZN Spokesperson on Education
IN planning to do away with government school area zoning, KwaZulu-Natal education bosses have shown a remarkable lack of insight around the realities of running complex fee-paying schools.
While the desire to have the demographics of all our schools imaging the demographics of our country – the only moral basis for this type of manipulation – may have a nice logic to it, the reality of the current social, spatial and economic patterns in our country renders such a move absurd. Quite clearly the logically corollary of this forced integration has not been worked through thoroughly by officials including KZN Education HOD, Nkosnathi Sishi. It is a pity that both the HOD and provincial MEC, Senzo Mchunu, did not take the time to consult with principals and school governing body organizations before issuing this half-baked plan.
The whole reason for the creation of section 21 schools was to transfer to parents many of the financial and administrative burdens of running schools, in order for the state to focus on uplifting the poorer schools. The trade-off for accepting this burden was greater autonomy in admission policies and setting of school fees. The natural consequence of this is that the better schools, and these invariably have the highest school fees, do not follow the racial demographics of the country but the economic demographics.
The only multi-racial schools in our country at present are, in fact, the ex model C schools. It is easy to imagine masses of poor Black pupils rushing to find non-fee-paying positions in ex-model C schools, but highly unlikely that many affluent White pupils would rush to the local township school to balance the racial equations there.
If the real basis for Sishi’s plan is to address this imbalance then it is likely we are about to see the demise of fee-paying schools – the source of the almost all our Maths and Science matric passes – and the hand-back of the education burden from parents back to the state.