The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has urged parents to report any school that withholds students reports cards due to school fees that are not paid up. Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast on Tuesday, department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond labelled it “unacceptable” and encouraged parents to be open with schools about their financial situation. Hammond said that the fees bring in the crucial funding needed to provide quality education
“If there is a school that is practicing this, the parent must please contact the district office and report it so we can address it with the school immediately,” she said.
“I do feel for our schools. Our schools are trying their best to maintain standards that the parents expect them to have. That includes needing to maintain schools. A large part of that is through school fees and paying a school governing post.”
Hammond said it’s legal for schools to demand parents fetch the report cards of their children, adding that “they might then want to have a conversation about the fees”. However, schools should work to accommodate payment arrangements.
“A lot of parents have lost jobs and contracts, there’s been a loss of income in the household and we know this. I think parents just need to be open and honest, they can maybe make an agreement with the school to try to assist them.”
“Try to do what you can to contribute. But at the end of the day, its about (having) a conversation. A school cannot deny a learners report card because of that.”
“At the same time, we are aware of parents that are getting paid and don’t pay school fees. Those are the cases where they haven’t been affected but yet still refuse to pay and they’re putting themselves in that position. At the end of the day, we just want the best for our kids.”
Hammond also said she was “horrified” to hear that some schools put children out of class due to parent’s inability to pay fees.
“This kind of thing should be reported if it’s at a public school. We do try to help parent that are in independent schools in that situation but obviously we do not have the authority to force them to do certain things. However, we do try to engage, because many parents need those report cards to leave independent schools and do transfer cards and be admitted to public schools, for example.”
She added that if this is the case, principals and governing bodies are engaged to resolve the issue.
Hammond noted that Tuesday marked the departments Presidential Initiative which has assisted in 200 schools in obtaining ‘no fee’ status and supplemented other’s income losses to ensure governing bodies and teachers get paid.
Meanwhile, amid concern of rising Covid-19 cases in the province, Hammond expressed confidence that schools are adhering to health and safety protocols. She warned against becoming relaxed in this regard.
The few cases, Hammond said, that have been confirmed at schools are being managed effectively.
“I believe our schools have done an excellent job. We are reminding schools, in a letter by the HOD today, to adhere to the guidelines we have issued to all schools. Even the cases that we do have of teachers and learners, the overall majority is definitely caught and is not being spread within the schools.”
“We are preparing for schools to continue adhering the temporary advised education plan and the protocols (in 2021).”