School slammed for R20 admin fee

The Metro South Education District has not received any complaints about parents having to pay an administration fee for pupils applying to schools for next year.

This comes after it came to light that Mondale High School, in Portland, had asked parents to pay a R20 administration fee to cover printing costs and processing more than 500 application forms of prospective pupils.

The administrator of Facebook page Mitchell’s Plain Alive challenged the payment.

“Just on a fundamental point, I’m appalled that a school situated in a ‘previously disadvantaged’ some may argue, still disadvantaged area, would expect hard working parents to fork out R20 for what I see as a Lottery ticket,” read the post.

It went on to say that the payment did not guarantee acceptance at the school.

The Plainsman spoke to Mondale High School principal Owen Bridgens, who confirmed that the handful of parents who had paid the R20 had been reimbursed.

He said the school understood that an administration fee would prevent people, who could not afford the it, from access to the school.

Mr Bridgens said they were faced with financial constraints and that parents who paid school fees had to cover the costs of paperwork of children who were not at the school. “We only get R275 000 from the Western Cape Education Department for the year. Once we pay the municipal bill there is no money left,” he said.

He further explained that Mondale was a quintile five school.

Provinces have to classify schools per quintile according to percentages set nationally by the Department of Basic Education, using census data.

The education authorities classify schools into five categories called quintiles, according to their relative poverty levels. The poorest schools are in Quintile 1 and the least poor in Quintile 5 (“Quintile system ‘flawed’,” Plainsman, August 31, 2011).

The relative poverty of the community surrounding the school determines the quintile.

All schools in Quintiles 1 to 3 are no-fee schools, in terms of national regulations.

In 2011, a quintile 1 school in Mitchell’s Plain received R829 a pupil.

The schools in Quintiles 4 and 5 receive an average of R453 and R257 a pupil respectively.

Millicent Merton, spokesperson for the WCED, said: “We have not been informed of any complaints about schools charging administration fees reported to the district office. Parents are welcome to report this to our district offices and we will investigate these allegations,” she said.

Ms Merton said schools may not demand a non-refundable registration fee.

A school may request a parent to make a part-payment towards the school fees of the next year – but this should not be linked to securing a place at the school.

She said if charging a fee was reported, the department would investigate the claims and that its outcome would inform any action to be taken.

Ms Merton said support staff were public service employees appointed in terms of the Public Service Act, 1994.

At education institutions there were two components namely, administrative and cleaning support staff, which included administration clerks, general foreman and general assistants.