St Bede’s Primary School pupils have been refused their March and June reports after parents failed to produce R100 for fund-raising at the no-fee school.
A disgruntled anonymous parent who has two children at the school said: “This worries me because one of my children is doing his last year at the school and I need his June report to apply for high school next year. I think the teachers are after using the money for themselves, we have never had money demanded like this before. We used to start fund-raising from R2 up to R20 because some of the parents simply could not afford more.
“It is pretty obvious that I will not be getting my children’s results in September and December because I am not planning to pay the money. I was one of the parents who said at the meeting in January the amount was too high for me to afford.
Another anonymous parent said: “This is a sensitive issue which needs to be exposed. Another woman had to pay R300 for three children because she desperately wanted to see their results.
“It seems that this will continue until the end of the year. This needs to be dealt with, because the parents in the community do not have money, that is why the government introduced no-fee schools to begin with, but we are being abused. We expect this kind of approach in multiracial schools, but not at a rural school where poverty is rife.”
The parent also said the school principal, Nomampondo Ncoko, may believe this approach was correct and compulsory, but it was at the expense of the children’s progression.
As a result, he said, he no longer attended the meetings between the parents and the school because things turned ugly and the parents became the enemy of the school governing body and the other parents when they disagreed with the fund-raising plan.
Ncoko said the decision was taken in a meeting in January where the parents had agreed that they would contribute a once-off payment of R100 per child as part of raising funds for the school.
“Every school has to have its own way of raising money to cover other school activities as the money received from the government on its own is not enough. Previously the funds were raised through pupils being charged for wearing casual clothes on civvies day,” said Ncoko.
“However that was not working well because some of the parents felt they were paying more while others were not doing so at all. To resolve the issue the parents resolved to find something that would bind all of them to contribute towards the fund-raising.”
She said the school staff had told the parents not to pay more than R200 if they had more than two children at the school, however they refused and insisted that R100 be paid per pupil.
“The parents said everybody had access to grant money, which meant all the parents should be able to pay the money. Although I am aware the pupils should be receiving their reports there was nothing that I could do because the school belongs to the community and the parents and I could not do as I pleased.”
The department of education’s Mali Mtima said withholding school reports from the pupils was not a policy of basic education and there was no public hearing concerning it. “The pupils have a right to get feedback on how they are progressing in school. The reports should be made available to them to see where they need to improve in their studies. Even if it is not a no-fee school, pupils should be given their reports. The school can make other arrangements with the parents to resolve the money issue.”
At the time of going to print the school was planning to hold a meeting with the parents to resolve the issue in order for the pupils to receive their reports.