South African schools must not increase fees for 2021 – Experts

Experts recommend that schools minimise any increases to their fees for next year.

Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools CEO, Paul Colditz, told the Sunday Times that economist Mike Schussler had advised in a webinar that its member schools shouldn’t increase fees for next year.

“We also recommended no increase and the feedback we are getting is schools are heeding our call,” said Colditz.

Colditz noted that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were more pronounced for private schools than public schools, and predicted that enrollment at the latter would therefore decrease in 2021.

The Governing Body Foundation said that it had not advised schools not to increase fees, but had said any increases should be limited as much as possible.

“We would consider it somewhat reckless if an ordinary public school took no notice of the economic position of families,” said CEO Anthea Ceresto.

“We are really emphasising cutbacks and delaying the implementation of proposed projects.”

The Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) has also told its members to either not increase fees at all, or to ensure their increases are below inflation.

Curro said its increases would vary across its schools and are dependent on each school’s specific context.

2021 school calendar

Earlier this month, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga published the updated 2021 public school calendar.

This calendar sees teachers return to work on 25 January, while learners will return on 27 January.

“We are fully aware that the country needs the school calendar for effective planning purposes, and we have worked hard to ensure it is done properly; taking into account the disruptions that have occurred in 2020,” said Motshekga.

“We will need to carry over some of the curriculum work into 2021 and we have done our best to accommodate the interests of everybody.  But our priority is the learner.”

The school year is starting later than usual to cater to rescheduled matric examinations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we had already announced before, the June Senior Certificate examination was postponed, and will now be written together with the National Senior Certificate examination in November 2020,” said Motshekga.

“The examination timetable for the combined June and November examination had to be amended; so that this examination commences in November, instead of October 2020, as was initially planned.”

The 2020 matric exams will now take place between 5 November and 15 December 2020.

Education Department struggles

The education sector has suffered a number of controversies during the lockdown period.

An example of this is the June reopening of schools being delayed by a week due to readiness issues.

This followed three reports which discussed the readiness of schools.

“All three reports converged on the fact that a substantial number of schools would not be ready for the reopening tomorrow,” said the GCIS on 31 May.

There were also controversies surrounding the PPE tenders given, including the quality of the PPEs procured by the education department, as well as the pricing thereof.

In one example, a PPE supplier in the Eastern Cape was found to be delivering hand sanitisers with alcohol content as low as 4%.

“What this service provider has done is utterly shameful and unethical. Their carelessness and shoddy workmanship have effectively put the lives of children and teachers in danger,” said MEC Fundile Gade.

“We are currently consulting with our legal team and we will make sure that the law takes its course. Furthermore, we will write to the provincial treasury to ask that they are immediately blacklisted from doing business with the government ever again.”

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South African schools must not increase fees for 2021 – Experts