While most Western Cape schools fall within quintile four and five categories (fee-paying), many parents whose children attend these schools are unable to afford annual fees. Despite the existence of quintile one to three schools (no-fee schools), the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) this year increased its subsidization of quintile four and five schools with R47.5 million.
There are currently 569 public fee-paying schools in the Western Cape, of which the WCED has compensated 551 of these schools fee deficit, effectively assisting 97 per cent of all provincial public fee-paying schools.
In addition, in 2013 the WCED offered 216 public schools serving poorer communities the option to apply for no-fee status.
Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beat, Spokesperson to MEC Debbie Schafer, Jessica Shelver explains that within the Western Cape, 668 quintile one to three schools have been established and in 2011, the department extended the no fee allowance to 216 quintile four and five schools.
She says that the department annually budgets for no fee schools and had allocated R46.3 million for the fee deficit in 2016, but has extended it to R47.5 million.
With regard to the issue of parental repayment, where parents who cannot afford the cost of school fees assists with activities at the school, Shelver says that it is not within the ambit of the department to make such demands.
“We would not enforce [repayment] at provincial level, it is something that some schools do have, where parents are part of school neighbourhood watch and management teams. It is something we will encourage, but is something we simply cannot enforce.”
Given fears that economy will continue to suffer, coming the 2017 financial year, Shelver asserts that the department does foresee that the amount will increase.
“If we look at what we paid in 2014 and 2015, it went up by 91.9 per cent to 96.6 per cent. So, there is a trend and it is something that the number is growing, Shelver noted.”
She says that despite budget constraints, the department does hope to assist as many parents as possible in the coming years and confirms that it will exhaust all avenues.