23 November 2006
Over five million children across South Africa will benefit from the country’s no-fee schools policy in 2007, the Department of Education said on Wednesday.
In total, 5 001 874 learners from 13 856 schools across the country have been listed by the provincial departments as beneficiaries of the policy for the 2007 academic year.
This follows Education Minister Naledi Pandor’s recent announcement in Parliament that 40% of the country’s learners would benefit from the policy next year.
There are currently 7 800 no-fee schools in the country, benefiting approximately 2.5-million students.
The government introduced the no-fee school policy to end the marginalisation of poor learners. This is in line with the country’s Constitution, which stipulates that citizens have the right to basic education regardless of the availability of resources.
The policy was introduced early this year as part of the Education Amendment Act, signed into law by President Thabo Mbeki in January.
The no-fee policy empowers the minister of education to exempt certain schools from charging fees, based on poverty levels of the area they serve. The government determines which schools qualify to be no-fee schools using data from the Poverty Index supplied by Statistics South Africa.
Up to R530 per learner is allocated for each designated school.
In addition to this, the department is developing a framework which will allow schools in more affluent areas to receive subsidies if they enrol non-fee learners.
Schools are compelled to inform parents of the school fee exemption for poor learners.
The province with the highest number of learners not paying fees next year is KwaZulu-Natal, which will have 1 173 503 beneficiaries enrolled at its 3 341 no-fee schools.
The Northern Cape – the country’s least densely populated province – will have the lowest number of non-paying learners, with 102 244 children at its 335 no-fee schools.