Making a commitment to pay school fees

The payment of school fees, or rather, the non-payment of school fees is given prominence by many schools during the third term of the year.  The non-payment of school fees at schools where parents are able to afford such fees is bringing many of these schools on the verge of bankruptcy and into a state of disrepair.

On reading the newsletter of Buccleuch Primary School, a former model C school from Gauteng, the author questions the parents and thereby jolting them into reality. 

She tells parents, “Ask yourself: Is paying school fees a priority in my budget?  What is your honest answer?” Budgeting for your child’s future is vital in the current unstable climate in South Africa.

Many schools in our community are quintile five schools.  This means that they receive the least amount of funding per pupil as opposed to quintile one to three schools.

The allocation received from the Department of Education is minute compared to the expenses these schools incur.  The bulk of the expenditure of most schools being their utility bills, namely, electricity, water and telephone costs.  Other major costs include the employment of SGB staff and maintenance costs.

Schools employ SGB staff to maintain desired standards and provide our pupils with the best possible education affordable by our parents in that community.  Parents adopt the budget each year, around November, for the preceding year.  At this meeting, the school fees are democratically agreed upon by all parents present.  Parents need to honour their commitment made at this meeting to pay their children’s school fees.

Parents experiencing difficulty to pay school fees should be responsible and bold enough to approach the school to discuss an acceptable payment plan to settle all outstanding school fees.

Schools having problems collecting such fees have the legal mandate to outsource this collection to outside agencies including debt collectors and lawyers, sometimes at additional costs usually paid by the parents.

Parents’ commitment to pay their children’s school fees is crucial for the promotion of quality public education in our country.

Parents must plan for this commitment, and honour this commitment.  This is one way parents can play an active role in the education of their children at public schools. Comments and suggestions can be emailed to [email protected]

Dr J Naidoo

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