WCED warns schools against ‘registration fee’ charges

Published Jan 19, 2024


The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is investigating allegations that some no-fee schools have requested parents to pay registration either for placement or readmission for their children.

The department confirmed it had dealt with an allegation of this nature at a school in Worcester.

The 2024 academic year started on Wednesday for millions of pupils while some were still trying to figure out where they will attend school.

There were queues at department district offices on Thursday, with more than 2 600 children still to be placed.

The department said it had also received 609 extremely late applications after January 1.

MPL Khalid Sayed said while they were concerned about the number of unplaced children, they were also disturbed by reports some no-fee schools were apparently demanding a registration fee.

“There have been incidents of school principals charging parents for learners to start the academic year and we have escalated this and WCED reaffirmed it will look into this. We call for all schools to desist from this illegal act, this is abusing poor and working class parents. It does not matter if it’s due to lack of resources, fundraising or whatever the reason might be.

“Also schools need to hold the department accountable where they might be failing to play their role.

We have also been inundated with placement and overcrowding issues in Metro East and Metro South areas, parents are being made to run from pillar to post. We had suggested that some district officials be deployed to schools during this busy week,” said Sayed.

Parents for Equal Education SA founder, Vanessa le Roux, also said registration fee was exploiting poor parents.

“When we received the complaints last year the department was notified.

However we never heard of an outcome that maybe a warning was given or anything like that,” she said.

Le Roux said the main challenge on the ground was unplaced learners and they were hoping they do not wait until March to be placed.

“This morning one of the parents who applied on time last year but is still waiting for her child to be placed received an email that she must wait until they are done building new classes. This means these learners are likely to start going to school like other children around March. This problem is worse in the Metro where there are many unplaced learners. The PR spin that these are late learners or those coming from the Eastern Cape is always used.

“We don’t know why other provinces are not mentioned if it's relocation related or in their terms an ‘immigration’ problem. All those I personally know applied on time and it's Grade 1 and 8. Parents must not be blamed... there is a shortage of schools in the province,” said Le Roux.

Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said: “The WCED was made aware of allegations against Worcester Secondary, which were addressed immediately by the relevant district.

“No fee schools can not ask for any such fee, and the WCED has been very clear on this.

“Should a parent be asked to pay such a fee they are to please contact the WCED district office, contact details can be found on our website.

The names of the schools that have been provided have been submitted to the relevant directorate for investigation and follow up.”

She said in relation to placements, like other provinces, the Western Cape was receiving late applications from parents.

“The numbers from the districts still need to be collated and assessed.”

Cape Times