Minister of Education Donald Grant
In October, the Western Cape Education Department made an offer to over 200 fee-paying schools to apply to become no-fee schools from 1 January 2014.
The offer was made to help assist schools in Quintile 4 and 5 in alleviating some of the funding challenges they face as a result of the non-payment of school fees by parents.
Given the tough economic climate, over the past few years, schools have been reporting an increase in parents unable to pay their school fees. This ultimately affects the income of some schools and places a burden on the school management to find the funds necessary to pay for services, equipment and materials.
It was therefore decided that we would offer to schools, which currently charge annual school fees of R400 or less, the option of becoming a no-fee school. The school would then receive the same per learner allocation of those schools in Quintiles 1-3.
The SGB was given the opportunity to consult with the parents of each school where they would have to agree to the application for no-fee status at a meeting held according to Sections 38 (2) and 39(1) of the SASA. The identified schools would then have to apply in writing to the Department for this status.
Over the past few weeks, all of the schools have finalised their consultations and have replied to the WCED on whether they have agreed to apply for a no-fee status.
I am pleased that 216 schools have now applied.
I will now, as the provincial Minister of Education, declare these 216 additional schools as no-fee schools in terms of Section 39 (13) of the South African Schools Act (Act 84 of 1996).
The WCED has allocated R20 million for the remainder of the 2013/14 financial year and R46 million in 2014/15 to cover the costs.
The schools concerned will still remain in their current quintile ranking.
The initiative above is one of many pro-poor initiatives the WCED has developed in the last few years to support schools struggling with high fee exemptions and the collection of school fees.
Just last week, I announced that the WCED would be paying to schools R42 million rand in compensation for fee exemptions. (Please see attached statement).
We will also be giving schools, which have not been invited to apply for no-fee status, funding top-ups.
These schools qualify to receive top-up funding to 100% of the no-fee threshold amount if the sum of the school fees charged and the norms and standards funding allocated is less than the no-fee threshold amount of R1 059 per learner for 2014-2015.
102 schools will benefit from this initiative which will cost R12 million in 2014/2015.
Once again, the additional financial support given to these schools can be of the upmost importance in improving resources for learning and teaching.
We are very excited about these initiatives to help some of our schools serving poorer learners that have been categorised in poverty quintiles 4 and 5.