Sudden closure of pre-school angers parents

Owner blames thousands of rands in outstanding fees for crisis at popular facility

Scores of toddlers and Grade R pupils were summarily left without a creche and pre-school yesterday when Little Treasures in Uitenhage announced its impending liquidation and closure on Sunday.

The crisis at the popular facility, which its owner has attributed to thousands of rands in outstanding fees owed by parents of children who attended the school, was brought to light yesterday by upset parents.

Some of them are demanding reimbursement of the fees and associated costs they had made in advance.

The parents who paid their monthly fees in advance are frustrated at having to find new schools at short notice, without having sufficient funds to do so.

Those with children in Grade R have expressed concern over having to place their child in another facility, halfway through a critical pre-school grade.

Parents of children at the facility were notified of the business’s closure via cellphone messages from the owner of the business, Lia Erasmus.

“It is with deepest regret that I have to inform you that Little Treasures was closed . . . for an arrears balance on rent,” she messaged.

“I have failed myself and all of the parents and children. While I am trying to sell furniture to refund parents and pay teachers, it is not going to be a quick process.

“With 50% of our children not being allowed to return due to non-payment of school fees, this has put the future of the play school in deep financial strain.”

Communicating again via SMS, Erasmus said yesterday that outstanding fees totalled R23 000.

“We are now being liquidated and dealing with our lawyers.

“I informed parents that once [the] furniture is sold, they will be refunded part [of] the fees that they are due.

“I will not stand for any threats, slander or defamation of character that I am receiving from the parents,” she said.

Erasmus had 63 children enrolled at the facility, but 31 parents had failed to pay their fees.

“I am financially and emotionally drained by all of this,” she said.

Frustrated parent Phindiwe Ngwena said the school’s sudden closure had left her and her five-year-old daughter – who was in Grade R – in the lurch.

Ngwena, who said her child had been in that play school for the past year and a half, said: “This is a critical year for my child and the others in Grade R, and to suddenly be told that the school is closing – when I am sure they were aware that they were in financial difficulties for some time now – is very upsetting and frustrating.”