Parents across the Cape have been asked to continue paying school fees during the lockdown period, despite no guarantee that their children will return to the classroom any time soon.
The Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) has announced that its officials have been engaged in ongoing discussions to plan the school calendar after lockdown. The final decision on this, however, lays with National Government. Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga has only announced that the department is considering scrapping the June and September school holidays. Other than that, no other news has been shared on the plans for the rest of the school year.
The Western Cape has 105 528 grade 1 pupils who started school in 2020, and 52 313 in grade 12 who have hopes to complete their schooling careers this year.
“The department has encouraged parents to pay school fees, where possible. A letter to principals at the beginning of lockdown from the HoD indicated his view on this – that parents should continue to pay fees. Many schools rely on fees to pay SGB staff,” Bronagh Hammond, WCED spokesperson, said in a statement. “Parents who have been laid off or have had contracts cancelled and are unemployed can apply for fee-exemption. Forms can be collected at schools once they reopen. It is important that parents fill in these forms if they qualify; these forms are then sent to the WCED.”
Many parents are unhappy with having to pay the fees, however, as a mother from Kraaifontein speaking under the condition of anonymity expressed. “My daughter is in grade four,” she said. “And I understand that yes, the fees must still be paid, but I also still have to pay for her after-school activities as well. I have no problem with paying the fees due to the school, because I can afford to, but the extra mural fees make no sense.”
Parents who have children registered at private schools are not exempt from paying school fees, as the Independent schools Association of South Africa has confirmed its parents are still to pay fees.
A father who has a daughter attending a private school has said that he will do as he is instructed. “If it is mandated that I pay school fees, I shall do so,” he said.