Cape Town - The Western Cape Education Department has warned principals against withholding school reports due to unpaid fees.
Organisations such as Parents for Equal Education said the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the economy and the financial status of parents must be considered.
The department said it was unlawful to not provide a parent with their child’s school report, and children from impoverished backgrounds were exempted, according to the Regulations for the Exemption of Parents from the Payment of School Fees.
WCED spokesperson Millicent Merton said the department was appealing to principals and governing bodies to be tolerant of parents who could not afford to pay school fees this year due to the impact of the pandemic.
“Principals are reminded that it is unlawful to withhold report cards or transfer certificates because parents are unable to pay school fees. It is incumbent upon the governing body, as chief custodian of the school’s finances and policies, to act in terms of the South African Schools Act (SASA).
“According to the Regulations for the Exemption of Parents from the Payment of School Fees, the following persons are totally exempted from paying school fees:
“A person who has the responsibility of a parent in respect of a child placed in a) a foster home b) a youth care centre c) a place of safety, or d) an orphanage.
“A person who is a kinship caregiver of an orphan or of a child who a) has been abandoned by his or her parents or b) is without any visible means of support.
“A person who receives a social grant on behalf of a child.
“A child who heads a household.“
Vanessa le Roux of Parents for Equal Education said parents who could not afford school fees should be exempted.
“This is an issue that we deal with each and every year. This year parents lost their jobs and have added financial obstacles stacked against them. It is against the law to withhold report cards for financial reasons, and parents should please report this to the WCED.
“A report card should not be a negotiation tool to collect school fees. Schools have a whole year to collect fees. It is against the law, and parents should treat it as a criminal practice. There is absolutely no reason that can justify this practice.”