Khanyi Ndabeni HERALD REPORTER
MANY frustrated principals in Nelson Mandela Bay say they are
battling to keep their schools afloat because the Education Department
refuses to classify them as no-fee schools, despite that fact that most
of their pupils come from disadvantaged communities.
The Education Department introduced a new policy in 2007 in which it classified schools according to levels one to five.
- Teacher Zoleka Sithole shows how the school had to etch its name into the doors to help deter thieves
The schools in the lowest levels were deemed poor and allow pupils to
enrol without paying fees. In return, government funds the expenses
that were previously covered by fees.
High quintile schools are not 100% subsidised by the government and
have to raise most of the money needed for operating the school through
fundraising and school fees.
Provincial education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said: “We fund schools
according to poverty rankings of their surrounding communities, in line
with National Norms and Standards for School Funding.
“We call these rankings, or categories, quintiles. The poorest
schools are in quintile one and the wealthier schools are in quintile
Quintiles 1 to 3 in the province were declared as non-fee status.
Quintile 4-5 levels have to raise most money needed for employing
security guards, school clerks, secretaries, additional teachers,
paying of municipal bills and other material needed to operate the
But most schools that are ranked at high quintile levels are battling to raise money needed to fix school buildings.
Dispatch Primary, CW Hendrickse Primary in Uitenhage, Mqhayi High in
KwaDwesi, Loyiso High and Ndzondelelo High in Zwide, Masiphathisane High
in Motherwell, Gqebera High in Zinyoka and De Vos Malan Primary in
Schauderville are among the many schools in Nelson Mandela Bay that
are placed on high quintile levels. Yet these schools take in pupils
from previously disadvantaged communities where the unemployment rate is
“What frustrates us is that no one from the department of education
came to us and told us about this before implementing it. We were told
about this after government had implemented the section”, said
Masiphathisane High School principal Mzoli Maarman.
“We do not know which criteria the government use to determine a
school to be a low quintile. As much as we try to give our learners good
education, without proper resources there’s not much we can do.”
Loyiso deputy principal Jerry Mbenge said some of the pupils in the school were from child-headed families.
“You cannot force that child to pay school fees while not having anything to eat at home”, he said.
Mqhayi High School in KwaDwesi was build in 1994 in an up market
area, but the majority of pupils who attend the school are from poor
areas such as Westville, KwaDwesi Extention, Cleary Park and Zinyoka.
School fees are R150 a year but many of the 160 pupils cannot pay this.
A report compiled by Gqebera High School in Zinyoka township which
was submitted to the department of education in 2007 in order for it to
be declared a no-fee school stated that:
The school is in health deprivation area i.e there is only one clinic servicing the community.
About 65% of the people in the area are unemployed.
About 80% of the people in the area are uneducated with 50% living in RDP houses while the other 50% live in shacks.
The school only received a response this year, rejecting its application.
“No one from the department of education came to visit the school.
The department asked us to resubmit our applications again this year but
we do not know when they will give us an answer,” said principal
The school is a quintile five and received R56000 subsidy for this
financial year. The department has allocated 10% of the money to be
used to pay off municipal bills yet the schools bills are more than
R100000 for this year.
Eastern Cape Education Department Loyiso Pulumani said schools
placed at high quintile levels were in a better position to undertake
their own fundraising.
Pulumani said government looked at the locality of the school and
condition of the community before it allocate a quintile level.
He said some of the schools whose applications were turned down this year should apply again next year.
Pulumani also said for the year 2009, all quintile 1-3 schools in
the province had been declared as qualifying for no fee status. In
Nelson Mandela Bay out of the 70 public schools, 36 primary schools
fall under the quintile 1 to 3 category and 13 high schools.
“Over time the government hopes to attain no-fee status for all
schools in the province, thus realising the dream of free education for
all,” he said.