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Dept warns schools it’s illegal to charge a registration fee

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The Department of Basic Education has warned schools that it is illegal to charge parents a registration fee.

File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – The Department of Basic Education has warned schools that it is illegal to charge parents a registration fee.

Basic Education Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says parents must refuse to pay. The department has been inundated with calls from parents around the country whose children couldn’t be registered because they were not able to pay the fee.

Public schools are set to reopen next week after the start of the new school year was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mhlanga warned all school governing bodies and principals to ’’refrain from this illegal practice as it puts unnecessary pressure on parents’’.

Parents are urged to report these unlawful practices to the nearest district or provincial education department office.

“The department has received a lot of complaints from parents who indicate that schools are engaging in this unlawful practice, so this is a warning from the Department of Basic Education to advise schools to refrain from this particular activity as it generates unnecessary tension between parents and schools, and creates a lot of pressure from parents as they think they need to pay monies for their children to be admitted when in fact this is not true,” said Mhlanga.

Meanwhile, education stakeholders have expressed concern about the opening of public schools on Monday. School governing bodies and teacher unions have warned that some schools don’t have water and ablution facilities, while others lack the infrastructure to ensure social distancing.

They’re also concerned that supplies of personal protection equipment won’t reach some schools before Monday’s opening.

National Teachers Union general secretary Cynthia Barnes says the education department’s approach to teachers with comorbidities didn’t work out last year and had left hundreds of pupils without teachers.

Barnes said the department failed to engage with unions prior to issuing circulars and there was no clarity about teachers with co-morbidities returning to school.

She said Natu was not against the opening of schools, but wanted teachers to be safe. “We cannot say teachers must go to school and risk their lives.”

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