What is the Price of Eduction? School Fees & Kennedy Road | Abahlali baseMjondolo
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What is the Price of Eduction? School Fees & Kennedy Road

Saren Stiegelschool feesSIT Research

What is the Price of Education?
A Look at the Inefficacy of School Fee Policy on Kennedy Road

Saren Stiegel
Supervisor Fazel Khan, University of KwaZulu-Natal
School for International Training
South Africa: Reconciliation and Development
Spring 2006

We are so poor, but we don’t know that we are so poor.
There is no access to knowledge…
They don’t know that the policies don’t apply to us. The people in Pretoria are too high to learn about the experience of the informal settlements.
-S’bu Zikode

What we have said is that we understand your economic plight is low but we make an appeal to them to give something to our school fees. Because at
the end of the day, if all the learners apply for an exemption from school fees, whatever subsidy we get from the department is not going to allow us to run the school in terms of telephones and so on. So we need to make an appeal, that we know your economic plight is bad but if you want your children to get quality then obviously you have to pay. Someone has to pay for it.
- A.K. Maharash, Principal of Palmeit Primary

Saren: Is there anything else you want to say about school fees?
“Can I ask, if you can, how can I get help?”
-Jabulani Zungu

Initially when we had the first democratic elections,
one of the pledges was free education for all,
and free housing all, and free this for all and free that for all.
But the government has realized that it cannot fulfill all its promises.
So as a result you have got the masses, who are uneducated.
They heard “free” and now they expect “free.”
-A. Bhairoparsad, Principal of Clareville Primary

The Principal told us, “If he takes my baby, all mommies will send babies
without money.”
-Zandile Nxumalo (Translated by Lungile)

Table of Contents
I. Acknowledgements 4
II. Abstract 4
III. Introduction 5
IV. Glossary of Terms 7
V. Background and Literature Review 9
a. A Brief History of User-fees 9
i. The Policy Development Framework 9
ii. The Funding Formula 15
iii. Critiques and assumptions 18
a. Constitutionality of Funding System 20
b. Government responses and amendments 21
VI. Methodology 25
VII. Limitations of Study 26
VIII. Findings and Analysis 27
a. Attempting to frame the Kennedy Road experience 27
i. Knowledge of the Policies 28
ii. Payment Capabilities 29
ii. Responses of the Children 31
b. Specific School Policy in a Poor Community 33
i. Beliefs of parent’s financial abilities 36
d. How to Proceed 38
IX. Conclusions 40
X. Recommendations 42
XI. Bibliographies 43
a. Bibliography of Interviews 43
b. Bibliography Written Sources 44
XII. Appendices 45
1. Resource Targeting Table 45
2. Calculations for Exemptions 47
3. Survey Instruments 48
4. Transcribed Personal Interviews 50
5. Letter Templates for Workshop 67

Acknowledgements
I am forever in appreciation to the members of the Kennedy Road community for welcoming me into the community and allowing me to speak with them. I am indebted to M’du Hlongwa for helping me with transport and translation and introducing me to Lungile Mgube. Through her translation, Lungile provided an abundance of information in this text. She also escorted me to Palmeit and Burnwood. For all that she did, I cannot thank her enough. Zama Ndlozu was more than helpful in escorting me to the police station, translating the flyers and translating during the workshop. The welcomeness and warmth I received from these friends, as well as S’bu Zikode and Nonhlanhla Mzobe, was more than I can ever repay.
I am also extremely thankful for the administration at Burnwood, Palmeit, Clareville, and Rippon for being forthcoming with information and time. To Salim Vally, for listening and responding to ideas and questions and providing me with invaluable information, I am truly grateful. To Vanessa Nichol-Peters, thank you for putting in valuable time to read my unwieldy draft. And to Gretchen Young, thank you for helping me sort out ideas and progress. I would also like to thank my advisor, Fazel Khan, for facilitating my introduction to M’du.

Abstract
This year, 2006, many years into the new dispensation, the country is still struggling with racial and class tensions and inequalities. The education structure is situated squarely within this context. Despite having policies specifically in place to allow fee exemptions, the pressure to pay school fees has become extremely burdensome to poor black parents and the learners. Education and access to education can be extremely pivotal in empowering change in communities. Yet, situating access to basic schooling within a financial framework unattainable for some demonstrates an illicit strategy to entrench the poor.
This paper is a case-study of parents and learners in the Kennedy Road settlement that are struggling with the current policies. I will lay out the education development framework and the exemption policies that are intended to provide a transformative education system, contextualizing the situation of school fees and parents financial abilities. Through interviews with the local schools and members of the imijondolo (shack-dweller) community, I will analyze the access to education. Attempting to frame the experiences from Kennedy Road, exploring the local school policies, and questioning how to proceed, will demonstrate how social justice and economic inequalities in relation to education are being dealt with in South Africa. This paper finds that despite the ANC’s utopian pronouncements of democratic participation and attempt to redress inequality, education policy set against these efforts of social justice and economic equality. The school-fee policies, aimed at transformation, are only perpetuating the inequality issues and un-democratic society the ANC declared they would eradicate. Abolishing the fee system and increasing government allocation to all schools in need is the only way to assure pressure is taken off poor parents and children.

Introduction
When the new democratic government came into power in 1994, it was given the daunting task of addressing the deep inequalities and social backlogs apartheid left in its wake. In education, the learning disparities amongst racial groups, including the facilities and the resources, were immense. Necessary declarations of rights to basic education were part and parcel of the new ANC human rights’ agenda. In the negotiations into the post-Apartheid school reparations, a funding model was made to equalize school funding, urge integration, and parent participation. Despite amendments made to the legislation and funding structure, the current system for school funding is heavily dependent upon parents paying school fees. Alongside the user-fee structure, the government set forth exemption policies in order to ease the financial burdens of poorer parents.
This year, 2006, many years into the new dispensation, the country is still struggling with racial and class inequalities. The education structure is situated squarely within this context. Despite the policies for fee exemptions, for the poor black parents and the learners pressure to pay school fees is extremely burdensome. Education and access to education can be extremely pivotal in empowering change in communities. Yet, by situating access to basic schooling within an exclusive financial framework demonstrates an illicit strategy entrenching the poor.
Some critics of the government argue that the difficulty of poor parents to pay fees exemplifies that the macroeconomic strategies of educational funding are perpetuating education inequalities. In order to explore this, I will begin by giving the development of the policy framework, a brief history of the user-fee policies, highlights of the current policies, reviewing some social and human rights’ theory and its violations. This background contextualizes the responses by Kennedy Road parents, learners, and schools administrators, and frames their struggles within a theoretical perspective.
Much has been written and critiqued during the years of the transition, working towards a more equalized system of educational access. Still, little has been changed with regards to the grassroots relationships and plights of the poor. The imijondolo, or shack-dwellers, of Kennedy Road are amongst the poor that are plagued with the burden of school fees. The majority of children in the community attend one of two primary schools, Palmeit and Clareville Primaries, and one secondary school, Burnwood Secondary. This paper centers on educational access of Kennedy Road children and their parents who deal with the financial burdens of school fee policy.
My objectives in this project are twofold. At the macro level, I look to understand the policies, laws, and affirmative rights, how they are taking effect, and to what extent the efforts for social justice and transformation are being approached. How does a society shape its laws and policies to rebuild and sustain its people? Then at a more micro level, I explore the individual struggles of poor parents and what schools are doing or not doing to accommodate to their rights. I hope to show from the perspective of the parents, the extent to which funding policies and corresponding exemptions are in sufficient in making the admission process correspond to the fundamental right to education. Through interviews and a focus-group workshop I was able look into the situation of the Kennedy Road parents– what fees do they pay, do they receive any assistance, their relationship with the principals, etc. I look at the ways in which educational policy addresses the difficulties of poverty and I examine the policies and opinions set forth by the schools—how have the Principals shaped their policies, what kind of access do they provide to the parents to participate, etc. Thus, the body of this paper will begin by framing the Kennedy Road experience, the responses of parents to fees and responses of the children, then will explain the specific school policy from the perspectives of poor community members and the beliefs of parent’s financial abilities, and end by discussing how to proceed with these conflicting struggles.

Glossary of Terms
It is necessary to grasp the following concepts to understand the rest of this paper:
Adequacy Benchmark: Designates the minimally sufficient cost to satisfy an individual learner’s right to
education. For 2006, this amount is R527.
Annual General Meeting (AGMs) : The parent, community, and administrators meeting where budgets
are made and corresponding fees and exemption policies are set.
GEAR and RDP: ANC’s macroeconomic strategies that determine the federal and provincial
responsibilities and monetary allocations for education.
Fee Exemption: The policies that allow parents to be full, partially, or conditionally absolved from
paying fees. Parents are fully exempt if their annual gross income is less than 10 times the annual school fees; they are partially exempt is the income is less than 30 times but more than 10 times the fee. *** There should be automatic exemption should be granted if the learner’s parent is receiving a pension or welfare grant.
Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF): Sets the national budgetary guidelines and allocations
for the provincial departments of education.
Ministerial Review of the Financing, Resourcing and Costs of Education in Public Schools (Review):
The 2002 report on the school-funding regimen.
Model C Schools: As part of the negotiating process, parents were asked to choose between three
models, Models A, B, and C, of integration and school funding. Model A schools would have
made schools completely private, receiving 45 percent subsidy phased over three years. A vote
for Model B schools would have retained the public status, but could admit black students up to 50 percent, maximum, of the enrollment. This is the same as the Model C school. What is different is a vote for the Model C school would have created the so-called ‘state-aided’ school. Seventy-five percent of the budgets for these schools would have been received through state funding, making the remaining 25 percent the responsibility of parents and donors. The majority of parent bodies in white schools voted for the state, or “status quo” schools budget. Yet, government negotiations in 1992 required the status-quo schools and the Model B schools to convert to the Model C structure.
Norms and Standards of School Funding (Norms and Standards): National policies that give regulations for the provincial departments to guide school governance.
Plan of Action for Improving Access to Free and Quality Basic Education (Plan of Action):
Sets out the changes that need to be made to SASA and the Norms and Standards.
Parents: This includes both parents and guardians of learners, including grandparents and caretakers of
orphans.
School Governing Bodies (SBGs): The governing body of a school comprised of the principal, bursar,
parents, and community members.
South African Schools Act 1996 (SASA): For the purposes of this paper, the significant sections
of the Constitution include Section 29 (1)(a), the basic right to education. The policy asserts that no child should be refuse admission whether or not their parent has paid the user-fees. It establishes that the SBGs have the authority to determine the budget, the fees, and the exemption policies. This allows the SBG to determine whether or not the parent qualifies. Also, Section 39 of SASA designates that schools should set fees when the majority of parents at the meeting.
User-fees: Used interchangeably with school-fees, these are the parent-paid fees demanded by the school in accordance with the Norms and Standards.

Background and Literature Review

Brief History of the Practice of User Fees
The Policy Development Framework

In the ANC’s Restoration and Development Program (RDP), the policy framework that included the initial strategies for education and training, visions of redressing apartheid legacies were vividly articulated. The goals were targeted at bringing people out of poverty through an integrated program based on the people’s needs. A preview of the education rights came as the description that “all individuals should have access to education and training irrespective of race, class, gender, creed or age.” The documents cite the state to have “central responsibility in the provision of education and training.” These were the 1994 proclamations that were to frame the education to suit the people.
In his essay “People’s Education for People’s Power,” Bobby Soobraryan explains this slogan that captured the stage and location of the education struggle emerging from the apartheid inequality. For the majority of South African’s, the apartheid educational structures were not only blatantly unequal, but also a system meant to perpetuate the submission of blacks into a socio-economic formation based on oppression, exploitation, poverty, social dislocation and powerlessness. Soobraryan notes that “education is always in the interests of those who are in control…Under Nationalist control education was used to further subservience and oppression. Whereas in the hands of the people, it becomes a weapon for liberation.” People’s Education was a democratic initiative and should be judged according to the reception within the ambitions of South Africa’s majority.
In the initiative of democracy the National Education Crisis Committee (NECC) was created, instituting the research centers in the University of Natal and Witwatersand. Under the NECC, the guidelines of the People’s Education highlight education and politics as “inextricably linked in a manner that the transformation of education should occur within the context of social transformation.” After the repressive instruments of apartheid education, this ‘transformation,’ a nebulous concept for nation-building, must be understood as the restructuring of societal and the economical policy and law in which lives of the poor can be rebuilt and fostered to redress deep-seeded inequity.
After 1994, policy changes occurred, compromising between state and market resources, public and private schooling, and the character of decentralization. In “The South African State in Transition,” Oldfield outlines the role of the state and society in reconfiguring education in a developmental state. She illustrates the complex and dynamic definitions and goals of the apartheid state, transition state, and post-apartheid state. The debates of governance, decentralization, fiscal austerity, and governance hindered on the question of “what degree a ‘facilitative’ or minimalist state can change the stark structural inequalities that lie at the heart of the South African developmental crisis.” Oldfield argues to address South Africa as a developmental state that is neither centrist nor minimalist. Instead, the developmental state should strategically utilize private funding and civil society to serve the whole population of South Africa, addressing the imbalances, inequalities, and economic efforts. The difficulty lies in building the centralized/ decentralized strategy to address the goals of democracy while redressing apartheid inequalities.
Karlsson, Mcpherson, Pampallis highlight that “three of the most commonly stated goals of the post-1994 reforms in education governance have been those of increasing democratic participation in decision making, creating an equitable system of education and improving the quality of education provision.” Prior to 1994, the education system had fifteen different education ministries–one for each of the ten bantustans, one for each of the four officially recognized race groups outside of the bantustans (African, white, coloured, and Indian), and one responsible for the Department of National Education whose task was to set the national norms and standards. This was in fact a decentralized system with each department having its own model, funding formula, and governance, department and parent relationships. Decentralization, or the shift in power to the provinces and the schools, is thought to be a facilitator of democratic objectives; it allows decisions to be made within the people’s reach and power is distributed out of what could be a tyrannical location. At the same time, in the transition the undertaking of the provincial departments of education was the organization of a single provincial system out of the former racially and ethnically based departments that had operated in their territories.
The Interim and the final Constitution and the South African Schools Act (SASA) 1996 were the rudimentary organizers of school control in South Africa. The Interim Constitution, which came into effect in 1993, delineated control between the national and provincial government. While the Department of Education created the national norms and standards, the provincial government was responsible for the systems of implementation. The South African Schools Act delegated many schooling functions amongst individual schools’ governing bodies (SBGs). This was done in the efforts of democracy, which are incumbent upon a people’s education. In the vision of democracy, bestowing funding to school governance bodies was done to maximize the democratic part of stakeholders, including the broader community, and was meant to orient school governance towards equity, effectiveness, efficiency, accountability and the sharing of responsibility. Though this decentralization seems to be ideal in the efforts of democracy, SBG functioning and resources are challenged when they are comprised of apartheid undereducated adults.
At the same time, the ANC government furthered new macroeconomic strategies, which corresponded to the role of the state in education. After giving an $850 million loan, the IMF and World Bank came in to encourage fiscal discipline, liberalization of international markets and private provision of goods and services. In her essay, “The Link between Macroeconomic Policies, Education Policies and the Education Budget,” Katerina Nicolaou asserts that the objectives of equity and democracy driving the initial Reconciliation and Development Plan (RDP) were affiliated with a centralized, interventionist environment. The ANC democratic strategies transformed from the effort to “promote and encourage equality and deal with the wide range of backlogs” to demand for and supply of skills to further the country’s economic growth. Equity should be obliged through state provisions rather than market competition. Indeed, because the RDP was to organize a more equitable distribution of income and social services and for education increase in expenditure was allocated in order to redress the social backlogs. Nicholau points out, however, that there was a shift in government intervention in the original RDP and the White Paper introduced by the Department of Education. This was the beginning of the move from the RDP to the macroeconomic strategy, GEAR. GEAR highlighted a more market-oriented and decentralized approach, increasing the needs of many schools in order to supplement the fiscal restrained government allowance. Reverting to the spirit of the RDP, the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) was introduced in 1997 to make amends to the budgetary guidelines of GEAR. It became the policy tool that allocated the amount of state spending for the coming three years and furnished the strategies for the subsequent planning. Still, the neoliberal ideology infused the policy development.
According to their essay “The Rationalization of Teacher and the Quest for Social Justice in Education in an Age of Fiscal Austerity,” Salim Vally and Consol Tleane, point out that human capital theory informs the discourse of the main school policies, including GEAR and SASA. By decentralization in the government and the market cost-cutting strategies, GEAR ‘resuscitates’ human capital theory, relying on the idea that there is a direct correlation between education and economic growth. Vally and Tleane explain that in human capital theory, “education is seen as an investment for the nation in which students and workers are both value-added products and the means by which the economy is to be improved.” Yet, this also means education took the focus of economic growth, rather than democratic strength. That is, by marginalizing redistribution plans, GEAR redirects goals to efficiency and savings, instead of human development. These developmental policies still inform the funding framework for the school and shape the user-fee system, calling into question the efforts of redress and equality. The following section illustrates the structure that brought about the system of funding controls and corresponding user-fee funding.

The Funding Formula
The practice of the user-fees formula began prior to the transition in order to retain white privilege and voices in school control. The negotiations leading up to school structure decisions were inundated with protests, white interest groups staged walk-outs, and with an emerging black middle class argued over accountability and participation on how to organize the budget. As part of the negotiating process, parents were asked to choose between three models, Models A, B, and C, of integration and school funding. Model A schools would have made schools completely private, receiving 45 percent subsidy phased over three years. A vote for Model B schools would retain the public status, but could admit black students up to 50 percent, maximum, of the enrollment. This is the same as the Model C school. The difference is that a vote for the Model C school would create the so-called ‘state-aided’ schools. Seventy-five percent of the budgets for these schools would have been received through state funding, making the remaining 25 percent the responsibility of parents and donors.
The majority of parent bodies in white schools voted for the state, or “status quo” schools budget. Yet, government negotiations in 1992 required the status-quo schools and the Model B schools to convert to the Model C structure. Most Model C schools were historically white schools when the new democratic government gained power in 1994. After the transition the Department of Education debated three alternative funding structures. Option 1 would offer minimal change to status quo funding, while Option 2 would radically equalize per learner expenditure for all schools. Option 3 highlighted parent fees for school funding in order to redistribute state funding to schools in need. International consultants urged a fourth option of equalizing funding to a certain extent, yet making private subsidizing, i.e. school fees and donation, the majority of school funding. The argument was that, without charging fees, the budget would have to double in order to equalize funding to the level of the historically white schools. To further the argument, it was noted that the burgeoning middle class families and wealthy families who denied the option of financial participation would flee the public schools and education funding levels would subsequently diminish. Thus, The fourth option was adopted with the 1996 legislation in the form of South African Schools Act (SASA) and the 1998 administrative guidelines of the Norms and Standards for Public School Financing (Norms and Standards). The charging of fees allowed these schools to disproportionately exclude black children whose parents could not afford the costs. As Karlsson, Mcpherson, and Pampallis point out, explicit racism was no longer tolerated, so ‘school choice,’ or the school admission policy, was situated within a much larger structure of governance and funding, school organization, and the whole of the education system.
SASA and the Norms and Standards set out the fundamental structure for school funding to redistribute state funds and depend on the income of parents and other donators to supplement their shortcomings. Non-personnel costs, facilities, equipment, and learning materials, comprise only about 8-10 percent of a school’s budget. Within the guidelines of the Norms and Standards, the allocations of funds to non-personnel resources is unbalanced, with 60 percent of funds going to the neediest 40 percent of school, in order to redress the inequalities. Nicholau points out, however, that the Norms and Standards cannot expend a large amount because it adheres to the stringent budget of the MTEF. That is, the neoliberal macroeconomic strategy influenced by the IMF and the World Bank requires the federal education budget and provincial school policies to abide by a fiscally conservative framework. For it is the responsibility of the provincial governments to determine the ranking of the school in terms of need. The Norms then set up a resource-targeting table which allocates the percentage of resources of school according to the need quintile, whereby the poorest received 35 percent of non-personnel funds and the richest 20 percent is only allocated 5 percent. The concern in the provincial determination of needy schools is that resources will differ from province to province, allowing inequality to accumulate between parts of the provinces where schools need more funding. The personnel costs comprise 85-90 percent of a school’s budget and are driven by a per learner formula that favors the poor, which is determined by the physical condition of the school and the poverty level of the surrounding community. Under the Norms and Standards, the state determines a uniform, and a national teacher salary on a sliding scale of qualification. It is then the substantial responsibility of the school governing bodies, through fees and private donations, to supplement the funding for both the personnel and non-personnel costs. This perpetuates inequality between schools when supplement in funding is from poor versus wealthy parents.
In the vision of democracy, bestowing funding to school governance bodies was meant for democratic participation. The Norms regulates the question of fees to this administrative body of parents, teachers, community members, and learners. The Norms give numerous choices to SBGs for methods of raising funds, determined at the school budget meeting. In order to accurately assess the financial capabilities of parents, Section 39 of SASA has schools set fees when the majority of parents at the meeting decide to do so. The fees should be determined by ‘equitable criteria’ and include the total, partial, or conditional exemption for parents who are unable to pay. Parents are fully exempt if their annual gross income is less than 10 times the annual school fees; they are partially exempt if the income is less than 30 times but more than 10 times the fee. In theory, schools are prohibited to exclude learners who cannot pay or do not pay. Although learners cannot be excluded, parents can be prosecuted or handed over to debt collectors for failure to pay fees. In the effort to avoid this, the exemption policies should be made clear to parents in the Annual General Meeting (AGM). Many assumptions are made that impede the implementation of these equitable policy efforts, and as I will discuss in the following section, critiques have been made to the policy framework that are part and parcel of these assumptions.

Critiques and Assumptions
In his article in a recent edition of The Mercury, Usha Naidu argues that only a small portion of parents attend the AGMs, skewing the decision making ideology. The meetings, orienting the fee structure and budgetary guidelines, are necessary in order to implement the user-fee policies and corresponding exemptions. Moreover, most parents are not ‘financially savvy’ enough to question the school on the budgetary decisions during the meetings. More and more schools are budgeting in the sports facilities, after-care and homework shelters, none of which have immediate results for the parents paying the fees. The projects are in the light of capitalist development, whereby schools can be more competitive and attractive to parents looking to enroll their children based on the facilities. These types of projects exemplify the growing portion of schools that can look toward the fee system to facilitate economic gain, while many schools need the fees to stay afloat.
In the macroeconomic policies of government, beginning with one of reconciliation, the RDP, and the other more general, have had the effect of subverting democratic movement, especially in terms of policies for equity. As mentioned earlier, Nicolaou demonstrates that because of financial discipline, state expenditure was diminished on social transformation initiatives like education. This notably increases social backlogs by producing inequality in the labor force. In other words, the favoring of privatization within the educational provisions intensifies existing inequalities. Market initiatives can only be constructive when equality has been achieved. While the Norms and Standards does shift funds to the poorer schools, Vally highlights that it only distributes 7.8 percent of educations budgets, which for some is futile. For most schools, poor infrastructure is the norm. While the fiscal discipline constrains the funding for the poorest schools, the situation for a significant number of poor learners is ‘deteriorating.’
At the same time, historically privileged schools can set fees with no limitations. In his essay “Decentralization in the New Education System: Governance and Funding of School in the New South Africa 1992-1997,” John Pampallis argues that SASA paradoxically de- “democratizes” in the effort of democracy. In other words, the decentralization that has led to a greater democratization of schools by giving the main stakeholders, the parents, the influential voice in schools’ affairs, is also contributing to the perpetuation of inequalities among schools. In the negotiations leading up to the school structuring decisions, the groups that sought the more radical changes were less visible and were prone to depend on their new democratic government to champion their interests. Now SBGs can institute significantly higher fees, discriminating against parents that cannot pay. Trends show that parents paying fees will move their children to better resourced schools or even prohibit the enrollment of poor parents, through exemption policies to enter the school. Moreover, the assumptions made as to the capacity of the SBGs to determine the parents’ income and raise funds accordingly was amiss. The question then becomes whether or not the user-fee system is an impediment to the constitutionality of Section 29 (1)(a) of SASA, ‘the basic right to education.’

Constitutionality of the School Funding System
To clarify, though the user-fee system–responsibilities of SBGs, etc.– is inextricably linked with the sustentative adequacy of the school the issue at hand is whether or not the fees ‘restrict or impede the exercise of the right to basic education’. The African Charter on the Rights’ of the Child, signed and ratified by South Africa, requires the government to ‘provide the right to free and compulsory basic education.’ This is the same with the Convention on the Right’s of the Child, also signed and ratified by South Africa. And while Section 29 (1)(a) of SASA grants the basic right to education, it would seem the user-fee system is violating that right. The South African constitution appears conceptually disparate from the ratified international documents in the difference in the term “free.” However, The policymakers argue, however, that in a ‘financially stringent’ government, expenditures to benefit the wealthy would be futile. This system is meant to be the ideal approach in equalizing education. Thus, the argument becomes intertwined with questions of poverty and its consequences on how school supplement government funding.
Policymakers also wrongly assumed that exemption policies would serve to integrate those who cannot afford the high school fees in certain schools to still apply. The burden of fees prevents many parents from even applying to schools. The 1998 Poverty and Inequality Hearings showed that poverty is still a major obstacle in the utilization of the right to education. As Katerina Tomasevski, UN Special Rapporteur on Education, eloquently stated to the government
My most serious complaint against South Africa is that it has not eliminated school fees… It should [be] seen as a means of eliminating institutionalized racism…. The right to education must be linked with other human rights needs–the eradication of poverty and the eradication of discrimination.

Evidence suggests the despite solely violating the rights, it is an impediment to redressing inequalities in as much as it perpetuates them. My fieldwork is a case study of how the exemption policies are fraught with difficulties to not only redress inequalities, but are a mere reflection of the racist and class situation. The following section describes the recent amendments made to the system and discusses the future possibilities.

Government Responses to Critiques
Paradoxically, the same year as the Poverty and Inequality Hearings, the Amendment of the Education Laws Act was made, allowing governing bodies to employ additional teachers with their own financial resources. The state was transferring responsibility to the SBGs for accumulating more personnel resources; this was one of the first amendments, which furthered the school quality gap in the teacher labor market.
In 2002, the government set up a ministerial review team, comprised of members of the Department of Education, as well as economists, to report on the school funding regime. The Department issued the Ministerial Review of the Financing, Resourcing and Costs of Education in Public Schools. It addressed non-personnel funding norms (which only consist of 8-10 percent of the budget), while not addressing the 90-92 percent expenditures on post-provisioning personnel. SADTU, South African Democratic Teachers Union, called into question the formula used to determine allocations to poor school infrastructures and to address the discrepancies in per learner funding. Further, data proposed that parent opposition to fees was only amongst the minority 15 percent, arguing for little dissatisfaction with funding. Thus, the review fails to offer analysis to the fundamental policy issues concerning the inherent inefficacy of the user-fee system and need to abolish the whole system. Instead, the review argues that funding through fees promotes community participation and interest in educational quality. As stated earlier, the funding system, created and perpetuated in assumptions of white and class privilege, demonstrates the current framework for educational change.
In June 2003, after critiques were submitted to the review, the Department of Education issued its Plan of Action for Improving Access to Free and Quality Basic Education (Plan of Action). This became the layout of the changes to be made to SASA and the Norms and Standards. It proposed a complete renovation of the Exemption of Parents from the Payment of School Fees Regulations. In a two-tier framework, the policy complexly distinguishes and arranges a fee system amongst fee-paying and ‘no-fee’ schools. Though the ‘no-fee’ system is a step in the right direction, there are several defects. Key features of the Plan in Action include national rather then provincial quintiles to determine poor schools. The national DOE sets an ‘adequacy benchmark’, which designates the minimally sufficient amount to satisfy a learner’s right to education. The adequacy benchmark is set at R527 for 2006; the poorest quintile will receive an allocation of R703, while the wealthiest quintile will receive R117 to help reach this mark. Unfortunately, the Plan gives a window to evade the no-fee principle by allowing schools to charge fees where the adequate benchmark allocation is not sufficient. While poor schools are struggling to raise fees to reach the minimum, wealthy schools will be able to improve quality of the school; the discrepancies in schools will proliferate. Also, the removal of school fees will only occur in R to 9, not 10 to 12, despite parents’ poverty level. Attendance is currently dwindling because of paying the fees in earlier years. Moreover, charging for the years necessary to matric (graduation) will not help to prepare learners for life, let alone employment.
For the schools that do not qualify for the no-fee schools, the amendments made to the exemption policies hope to protect poor learners more sufficiently than the prior. First, a single compulsory fee must be set to provide for clear exemption criteria and outlaw all registration fees. The amendment clearly articulates that, despite the parents’ ability to pay fees, the learner must not be ‘victimised’ in any way, including suspension from classes, withholding reports, or verbal abuse. The Department also extends the policies to include orphans and parents who receive support grants. The new formula would require the SBG to take into account parents who have more than one child and to calculate the exemption accordingly.
Similar to the Plan of Action, the new exemption policies have the potential of again failing to protect poor parents. Although the new exemption policy takes into account parent’s number of children, it still allocates the power of the SBG to confirm exemption. This could allow the SBG, as it did before, to disqualify parents based on unlawful, such as racism or classism. Moreover, the mathematical and linguistically complex proposed calculations for exemption, as if it was not complicated enough before, will likely baffle the experts. The difficulty of the formula, as did the other, will rely on the SBG to inform parents of the extent to which they are exempted, situating the payments again in a slippery ideology. In other words, the SBGs, already causing poor parents hardships in budgetary determinants, will again have the authority to determine exemptions because of the formula’s difficulty. And still, if the complicated formula is causing problems for the SBG and the principal, they could forego the complexity by simply charging parents more than they are required to pay.
The Parliament passed the Education Laws Amendment Bill in 2006 to make about five to ten percent, about 28, 000 schools, fee-free in this following year. Many schools are still waiting to hear if they qualify. As with the Plan of Action that informs this Bill, the changes to SASA and the Norms are not without deficiencies. The framework for no-fee schools does not clearly define which class of schools will qualify. Information regarding a school’s ranking will be made available through the Government Gazette and on the internet, which severely restricts access for poor households. Moreover, only the poorest of the poor are said to be part of the allocations. This narrow frame of schools disregards the schools that have minimal facilities, yet are still struggling in gathering fees from the poor parent pool. Hopefully, in the near future the qualifications for national fee-free schools will expand, but until then only individual school policies can be altered. The following is a look at the realities of paying for education for poor parents and the learners and how specific schools are dealing with the dilemma.

Methodology
My primary research methodology was semi-structured interviews with Kennedy Road parents and children, three Abahlali baseMjondolo members, and administration officials of local schools. Lungile Mgube, an organizer of the community créche, introduced me to parents and children and served as a translator for the Kennedy Road community members. For four of the interviews, M’du Hlongwa also served as a translator. After attempting to get written permission in the first three interviews, I realized that with limiting writing abilities and that this request could cause unnecessary stress. I proceeded with translated, oral permission in order to ask questions and utilize their information. As was communicated to me with shocked faces and announcements of umlungu, meaning white person, few non-blacks and few outside the poverty group venture into the community of Kennedy Road. Perhaps for this reason, many parents seemed hesitant to talk to me. Yet, others seemed extremely forthcoming and did not hesitate to ask for clothes and food in return. In these cases, I would relay their needs to the development committee. And due to her reaction to the material, I only interviewed one child. Although her mother was present and I had oral permission, I felt that my questions would be too stressful on the informant.
In my interviews with the Principals of Palmeit, Clareville, Rippon, the Bursar of Burnwood, and a woman corresponding between the Palmeit Principal and parents, I attempted to explore their perspectives of the funding situation. I began each interview by giving the principals an abstract of my paper to sign in approval. I also rephrased my questions during the interview to see if I could get different or more accurate answers.
Also, at the end of my last week, I held a focus-group workshop with the parents at Kennedy Road. This was conducted with the help of my translators, M’du Hlongwa and Zama Ndlovu. Along with inviting informants during the interviews, I made flyers to inform more parents of the workshop. During the workshop I showed the parents exemption forms for Burnwood and Rippon. I also wrote out letter templates for parents who are receiving grants and templates for the police station affidavits.

Limitations of Study
Needless to say, the length of time and my energy capacity greatly limited the extent of my study. My data was limited by the amount of people I had time to interview at Kennedy Road. Moreover, the sample of people was not fully representative of the parents in the community. And more importantly, the language barrier limited my ability to understand their full sentiments and opinions in the interviews and the workshop. Though my translators M’du and Zama were extremely strong in their efforts, the limited number of translators at the workshop caused the parents to get impatient. Thus, I received little data from the workshop itself. Moreover, I found that without enough translation the templates were too difficult for the parents to understand and write out.
Moreover, responses include my subjectivity as an interviewer to skew the data. My translators’ subjectivity certainly compounded with my subjectivity. Interview subjectivity also came into play with the school administration. In transcribing interviews, my accuracy was constrained by the bias of framing information in order to achieve certain conclusions. As far as I could, I tried to work against this. Though I was able to interview most of the schools the parents named, there are more schools in the area and, given more time, I would have researched them. Notably, gathering a comprehensive understanding of policy is impossible with four schools. Also, due to my limited information at the time of questioning, I was unable to ask certain questions to Palmeit and Burnwood, which would have been helpful for the workshop. Further, the needs of the schools could have also altered their expressions. Two of the principals tried to asked for my help in getting computers and funding; this could have skewed the information they provided to explain their budgets. Also, as I stated above, a Kennedy Road parent asked me for clothes and food, which might reflect the limitations of accuracy if questions are answered in order for me to provide these things.

Data and Analysis
Attempting to frame the Kennedy Road experience
In Durban, the Kennedy Road imijondolo, shacks made of wood, sheet metal, and the like, cling to a hill overlooking Etekwini College and the city’s main garbage dump. In the shacks, people old to young are able to be close to city opportunities. Yet, this location does not justify the ways of their poverty. Garbage, despite being next to the dump, is strewn between the shacks; cement outhouses, most clearly razed and unused, have above ground drainage systems that the people use for their waste. There are few shacks with electricity and even fewer with water; water has to be fetched from one of the seven taps required for every 1000 dwellers. Alfred Mdletshe describes, “The rooms are hard to live in, and there are no toilets, so the bush around us is full of excrement. When its rains, there’s sewage slush all around. It really stinks.” The living situation of the shack-dwellers is a sobering reality.
Despite the hardships, community members have taken their own initiative to change their situation and provide awareness of their plight. The social movement, Abahlali BaseMjondolo, comprised of surrounding shack settlement members, is struggling against government policies that make rising out of poverty hopeless. Mdletshe describes, “We vote for a party which tells us it is fighting poverty, but look what’s happening… if you are poor, it means you only get poorer.” As Katerina Tomaveski stated earlier, education will be crucial in the fight out of poverty. But like Mdletshe argues of other policies, the current educational system fails to provide access for the poor. In essence, it is allowing the poor to ‘only get poorer.’ The leader of the social movement, S’bu Zikode, articulated the issue with government policy. “They don’t know that the policies don’t apply to us. The people in Pretoria are too high to learn about the experience of the informal settlements.” This is the Kennedy Road community’s plight trying to access education.
There are many primary schools in the surrounding area, but the most affordable are Palmeit Primary and Clareville Primary. Despite the lower school fees of Palmeit and Clareville, parents are struggling to pay or not paying at all. The only secondary school option is Burnwood Secondary, which allows the school to charge unattainable fees for poor parents. Granted, accompanying the user-fee system are the policies of exemption. The following section looks at the parents’ knowledge of the policies.

Knowledge of the Policies
Speaking of his community, S’bu Zikode sees the financial situation and his people’s knowledge of the policies explicitly. “We are so poor, but we don’t know that we are so poor. There is no access to knowledge.” In support of this statement, of the twelve people I interviewed only two knew of the right to education and did not have children. Yet, these rights’ and exemption policies squarely apply to the financial struggles of every person I spoke with. Jabulani Zungu asserts that paying school fees is just ‘too difficult.’ He does know there is someone to ask or apply to for help, but he does not know how to start. In the workshop I held, not one parent knew about the exemption forms for Burnwood. When M’du Hlongwa translated that fees were set at the Annual General Meetings, and that they could arrange meetings with the Principals if these fees are a problem, blank faces stared back. In this case, Usha Naidu’s assertion in The Mercury, that most parents are not ‘financially savvy’ enough to question policies was not confirmed. Many parents do not attend the meetings—they do not know they exist. Further, when I told them that the Principals at Clareville and Palmeit claimed the fees are reasonable and, more so, that most of the parents think this, howls of laughter emanated in the hall.
Speaking to the parents individually I discovered that even if parents were informed, many policies are being violated. Zandile Nxumalo’s daughter was refused access to Burnwood Secondary even when she sent in the affidavit from the police. So too, Nonzukiso’s children had to be sent to the farm in the Transkei when Palmeit would not accept the children without the fees. With the lack of knowledge of children’s rights, schools are restricting the parents and learners’ access to schooling. In the next section, I will show the importance of knowing rights and policies for education access when the parents’ financial situations are so dire.

Payment Capabilities
For these parents’ income yearly allowances to schools is too much, which is evident in their living conditions. All parents I spoke to did not have a substantial or even existent income. Most parents are on grants or pensions. Both Nancy Khebesi and Regina Ntsolo receive old-age pensions of R820 per month. True, this situation was worse before November when she dug through the dump to look for food. But she still has to pay R200 twice a month for Paraffin, R70 a month for insurance, and buy food and other necessities for the 3 grandchildren she supports. Similarly, Regina used to cut up cardboard and sell it to make a living; now she is receiving substantially more. Yet, as Lungile translated, this is “not enough because she has to buy everything with this money.” Even with pensions paying for food is still a struggle—paying for education does not seem feasible. As described earlier, the policies describe that parents of grants or pensions should be automatically exempt from paying. But the both the awareness of this law and the schools’ practice are not present here.
Many of the parents are unemployed or venders living on a pittance. With the exception of one grandmother, all the parents I interviewed had multiple children for which they have to support and pay school fees with this small or absent income. Flora Dlamini tried to negotiate with the principal at Burnwood Primary because she could not pay for both of her children. He asked her to make arrangements to pay R10 a month, but “she can’t even buy groceries.” Because the principal is ‘refusing’ to help by absolving her from the fees, this learner has no access to education.
Cousins Zola Cele and Skhumbuzo Respect Cele stopped being able to pay fees when her brother died and his father died, respectively. She decided to leave Burnwood this year to move to another school in the rural areas. But because she didn’t pay the fees the previous year, Burnwood would not give her the files and reports she needed to transfer. As turned out, she was not able to go to the farm school and Burnwood would also not let her back in without reports. Both these 18 and 23 year olds, know about the right to education; yet, neither one was able to finish their schooling. Skhumbuzo did not know he could access education despite payment. For him, it is too late for him to utilize the secondary school exemption policies. For Zola, to know about these rights are vital when there is no one to pay her fees. What is more, both stated fervently that they would go back to school if they had the chance. All the parents and learners rely that education is a high priority, despite school officials’ reasoning for not paying fees, which I will convey later. The response of the children to school fees, sometimes not outwardly apparent, is important to consider when looking at the impediment to learning.

Responses of the Children
With the exception of Sbongile Khuzwayo, many said that their children like being in school. When I interviewed her, Sbongile Khuzwayo was sitting on her bed that took up one room of the two room shack. When I went back the next week to give out flyers for the workshop, she was still in the same spot. Sbongile, in her late 60s is on a support grant for her leg that is missing. She uses this to support her grandchildren. She had to be in hospital for the amputation when it was time to register her grandchildren, so they registered themselves and she did not pay any money. She talked to the Principal and he said she has to make an affidavit at the police station about her ability to pay the fees, but it is difficult for her to walk. The principal and teachers keep sending messages that the fees have to be paid. She said that her children sometimes attend school without the fees paid, but most of the time they are at home– they are running away from the messages that demand them to pay. This is not literal restriction of the learners’ right to receive education. However, the children’s shame inflicted by paying school fees is enough to impede their right to learning.
S’bu Zikode asked me, “Why are children failing? Its not because they are not clever… They haven’t had any breakfast and then they get to school and they are reminded about how poor they are when they are asked for school fees. Schools don’t believe that the children can’t afford to pay.” Victoria’s granddaughter confirmed this explanation of paying fees effecting children’s learning. Victoria excelled her marks in Burnwood. But because she could not pay the fees and she was pulled out of Burnwood, she is no longer passing. Having children fail as a response to their poverty, will harm their school and personal abilities, affecting their future employment and living opportunities.
Jabulani Zungu thinks his children feel embarrassed or ashamed at the continual prodding by the school. Many of the parents reiterated Jabulani, saying their children’s shame is pronounced. I saw first-hand the shame Zandile Nxumalo’s daughter, Sizwe, is feeling. With the presence of her mother, I stretched my own ethical guidelines. I asked her if she is ever asked for fees. With her nodding confirmation, I proceeded to ask how she this makes her feel. As her tears began to pour, she showed that the reality of poverty, especially as a child, is an experience that extends beyond the ideology of the educational policy. If education officials could experience, as Abahlali attempts with their social movement, the experiences of the poor, no educational facility would allow learning to be restricted.
To ask children for fees– to make them responsible for reporting and give letters to their parents–asks ethical questions. What is clear is that learners are not unaffected by their situation. Still, it is not only the poverty that effecting their learning. In the classroom, children are being inundated with the realities of poverty. As Katerina Nicholeu noted earlier, having students fail will produce an inequality in the labor force. And as with Victoria’s daughter, failing due to shame, will preserve the class divide.
The people I spoke with at Kennedy Road named the local schools, Palmeit and Clareville Primary and Burnwood Secondary, as the schools their children attend. These are the locations where their children are supposed to be learning the thinking and methods with which to live their lives and transform their poverty. The following sections describe the policies of the local schools, exploring the extent to which policies are being adjusted in favor of or against the people of the poor community.

Specific School Policy for a Poor Community
Although there not the formal payment policies, both Palmeit and Clareville strongly urge their parents to pay the R250 and R190 schools fees, respectively. Another local Primary school, Rippon Primary, despite the principal’s arguments otherwise, charges a high R500 for tuition. In comparison to Rippon, Clareville and Palmeit seem reasonable. Like Rippon, the only Secondary school in the area, Burnwood, charges a steep R800. Both Burnwood and Clareville point out that all policies are made within the South African Schools Act, inasmuch as the fees are legally set by the parents at the Annual General Meetings to contribute local participation. So too, are the exemption policies in the attempt to address the needs of the poor. Though Palmeit and Clareville do not have formal exemption policies, meaning forms and calculations to achieve full, partial, or conditional exemption, they assure that with a parent conferences a plan can be made that will suit their financial needs. Rippon and Burnwood, I assume because their fees are higher, have forms and corresponding documents that are needed to qualify for an adjustment of fees.
The Principal at Clareville, A. Bhairoparsad, explains the necessity of requiring fee payment, even in parts, rather than allowing full exemptions.

Now we present two budgets at my school, one is with exemptions, one is without exemptions. And this is a very poor community that we serve. You’ll find that we have the parents agreeing that if everyone pays school fees then the school fees will be cheap. Because the system of exemption is that one is paying for the education of the other. The bottom line is you want the rich to subsidize the poor, because what will happen is, if you subsidize 50 percent of your school, then the other 50 percent will be paying for their exemption. But if everyone puts their shoulders together and say “hey I’m going to make an effort to pay school fees,” then their school fees are going to be reasonably priced.

With this reasoning, communal parent support encourages a better quality school, fulfilling the budget needs, and easing the payments of all the parents. Ideally, parents can come individually and discuss their needs and payment abilities with Principal Bhairoparosad in order to make the system work for their needs.
Similarly, the AGMs in Burnwood and Rippon, parents and the school governing bodies decide to use exemption forms to allow complete charging of fees. Both schools require the SASA form with the calculations, an affidavit from the police station stating their request for exemption, proof of unemployment, an unemployment card, the pay slip for the amount that they are supposed to pay, and another affidavit from the police station stating that they are unemployed. The Rippon Principal, Jenny Adams, highlights that after the governing body looks at all the documents, at the beginning of the year, none have been turned down if they include everything. However, as I illustrated earlier few parents know of these policies nor can they obtain all of these documents. Zama Ndlozu and I experimented with going to the notoriously racist Sydenham Police station to get the affidavit. Of all the people I met throughout my fieldwork, the police were the most unhelpful and condescending. After waiting an hour and asking many people who had no clue what form I was talking about, I was given one double sided sheet. The affidavit, in English, gave little guidance on how it was supposed to be completed. This experience confirmed that although once forms are obtained exemption should be a breeze, obtaining the forms prohibits too many people access.
For Clareville, Palmeit, and Burnwood, the admission of learners is over the limit. Despite the struggling budgets of the schools and their ability to get parents to pay fees, both Maharash and Bhairoparsad assert that they are offering the highest quality education; and that this, not the lower fees, is the real reason why learners attend. Also, according to the administrators, the high amount of learners choosing these schools is that they do not prohibit entrance or take parents to court based on the ability to pay fees. In contrast, Rippon, though they claim to accept all learners and have high class sizes, they are not over the learner limit. Rippon does institute debt collectors on parents who do not pay fees. Although Adams said she receives many children from the informal settlements (which include Foreman Road settlement, also close by), no Kennedy Road parents told me that they send their children to Rippon. This could be because of the high fees and corresponding risk of debt collection. As I noted earlier, Spreen and Vally emphasize the rarity with which poor parents send their children to wealthy schools. Despite emphasizing that repossessions do not occur, few poor parents will apply to wealthier schools with these property risks. This keeps the poor communities condensed to too few schools. With a majority of poor parents, some schools will struggle with budget criteria, perpetuating the disparity of inequality between schools and learners.

Beliefs of Parents’ Financial Abilities
The ‘norm’ for parents, as believed by schools, is that, despite their financial situation, they can afford their child’s education. In other words, a class structure is being perpetuated—an ideology that parents who cannot pay are uninterested in their child’s education. The Bursar at Burnwood, Anbernarthan Reddy, states that even when parents ‘promise’ they will pay, they do not. He clarifies, “I mean, they can afford it but they don’t. In fact, they spend more on the tuck shop.” Many of the school officials touted the term ‘entitlement,’ emphasizing that, because of their poverty parents would choose not to pay, thinking they deserve free services. That is, schools assume parents can afford it but they choose not to pay. Bhairoparsad argues, conversely, that it is wrong for parents to assume that the ANC’s promises of free education should be taken seriously. Indeed, “the government has realized that it fulfill all its promises. So as a result you have got the masses, which are uneducated and they heard ‘free’ and now they expect ‘free.’” As was so clearly displayed to me, unless people are told otherwise they do not know the current policy, it is not that they do not care. Yet, by orienting thinking around parents able to pay creates an ideology framing poor parents as indifferent to their child’s education. This ideology sustains the racism and classism in society education should be eradicating.
In the schools defense, the schools claim to make continual efforts to inform the parents of their payment duties, encouraging them to come to the AGMs and individually see the administration. All the schools send letters home with the children, informing them of the AGMs. “You cannot be oblivious to the law… Your school is inviting you to a meeting and if you are so keen and you can’t afford to pay school fees, etc, you will come and hear your view there. … You have the right to say ‘I cannot afford to pay school fees.’” All the officials stressed that the parents can come discuss their financial concerns. Jenny Adams explains the situation at Rippon Primary:
Yes a lot of parents know about the [exemption policy]. And they don’t go and apply for whatever reason. It may be embarrassment. But I know my parents know about it because they come to the meeting. Not all come, but we send letters home.[Parents] just refuse to pay, they don’t apply for exemption– they wont come near us. We know these parents can afford them. We look at the children; are they dressed in a funny way? With the conditional grants we allow them to not pay until they get a job and then request them to just come and help. Maybe on a Sunday, maybe come and help with marshalling on a work day, then the parents say that they are working. And if they’re working then they should be paying fees. Its an ongoing battle.

Many parents seem to be avoiding them, but the Principals argue that they know the financial struggles– the parents just need to ask. Unfortunately, if the parents do not know these policies exist they will continue in their struggle to pay the fees.
Moreover, as I acknowledged earlier, parents receiving grants should get automatic exemption and numerous parents from Kennedy Road are receiving them. If Adams knew most of the parents were receiving government support, then parents might be able to ease their burden. In Burnwood and Rippon where there are formal exemptions and the fees are high, automatic exemption should be taken advantage of. For Clareville and Palmeit, because they are not offering exemption from fees, it is crucial that the parents inform the Principals they are on grants. Though they may not be able to receive full exemption, explaining to the Principal the difficulty of living on these incomes should ease the struggle.
In contrast to Rippon’s automatic exemption for grants and pensions, however, Clareville Principal Bhairopasad thinks grants are a ‘contentious issue.’ His “concern is that if they are getting this money then they should be obligated to pay school fees. Because part and parcel of the welfare grant is maybe towards their child’s education.” As was explained to me, supporting a family on welfare grants and pensions is significantly more difficult than the Principals think. His urging the parents on small subsidies to pay exemplifies the interpretation of the user-fee policy that could strain the parents’ financial struggle, making poverty transformation nearly impossible.
In the school’s perspective, at the end of the day, despite the parent’s poverty, the budget needs to be fulfilled. The Palmeit Prinicpal describes that even when parents are struggling to pay fees, he “will remind the parents of all the commitments of the school has to pay and we tell the parents that if they cannot pay school fees as a whole then they can come and pay whatever half they can pay.” Bhairopasad urges that these letters and announcements to the children of the schools’ needs are not intended to pressure the parents and the learners, but, instead, to ‘motivate.’ Whether or not the parents’ situation is truly capable of paying the installment fees, a different perspective is told from the parents on whether have been informed of the meetings, funding requirements, and exemption policies. How to proceed to make the parents and the schools work together in this is important to consider.

How to Proceed
The schools and the parents must questions how policy can be brought closer to the realities of the poor. For some schools, no-fee policy is supposedly in the process of being changed. Whether or not schools choose have their fees waived, however, will partly be the responsibility of the parents to urge. Clareville has considered applying. Commenting on the new policies, Bhairoparosad says:
The department needs to do that to all the schools. See the South African government is allowing refugees into the country. See the refugees are allowed to be here as well. Many of our freedom fighters have gained refugee status in other countries. The idea of refugees is entirely acceptable but at the same time you need to encourage your refugees to become active members of the economy.

Yet, Bhairoparosad states it as a necessity for refugee children not the poor learners of his community. By speaking of only the refugees as reasoning to have fee-free schools, he seems to imply his views on the financial abilities of the community. He thinks parents can pay, they just choose not to. As I stated earlier of ‘no-fee’ schools, they still will able to supplement government allocations with fees. If this is the case, Bhairoparosad might still try to get fees from Kennedy Road parents who cannot pay and are not informed of their rights’. Without parents informing him of their financial needs, he will not know that they cannot afford to pay.
The responsibility is then put onto the parents to inform the Principal of their realities in paying fees. In the AGMs, the fees are set and the policies are told, and the Principals are urging the parents to attend. However, the ability of parents to actually respond to these letters and attend the meeting appears slightly outlandish when considering the language factor. With the exception of the Jabulani Lungu, Zola and Skhumbuzo’s knowledge of a few English words, I could not interview the ten other people without a translator. Few of the parents had been educated and few could even sign their names. Yet, every school sends their letters in English. Clareville said they have a Zulu translator in their meeting, but the other schools emphasized English is the ‘medium’ and the meetings will be held accordingly. These are the meetings where the exemption policies are made known, where the fees are set, etc. To expect parents who were unable to receive proper education to know English and, further, to be able to do mathematical calculations to fill out exemption forms, displays the policy’s evasion of the people’s needs. This is notably in opposition to Soobraryan’s description of the ANC’s efforts for the peoples’ education. The Rippon Principal mentioned that “when you’re translating into Zulu it takes up so much more space and so much time.” This seems to say that utilizing space and time to inform the poor of their rights’ weighs too heavily on resources. Makaharash stated, “So far, and I’ve been here for three years, no parent has told me that they have problem with Zulu.” Perhaps if the Principals were told of the parents’ specific needs in translation, more communication and knowledge on rights’ and policy would follow. To bring the Principals closer to the parents’ needs was part of my idea in holding a workshop with the parents. To get the poor access to education, Zulu translation needs to be part of the schedule. To withhold information from the poor through the language barrier is emblematic of the inequalities of education that are being perpetuated.
For the workshop, I wrote out English letter templates for parents who are receiving grants to assure they receive automatic exemption, and other templates for parents who are struggling with payments. I also wrote out in English what the parents should write on the affidavit. All the letters informed the Principal of the struggles with English and asked to initiate communication through a translator. Perhaps, the most productive part of the workshop were the copies of the exemption forms for Burnwood. The exemption policies, that Reddy said everyone knows about, are completely unheard of, which indicates extreme failure in the policies. As I illustrated few parents know or attend the AGM and are consequently suffering with user-fees. If this can be blamed on the parents disinterest and does not enough to encourage policy change, then the childrens’ response should. Abolishing the fee system is only way to assure the pressure being taken off the children, parents, and schools.

Conclusion
As the experiences of the people at Kennedy Road settlement and their local schools reveal, the South African educational policies are ineffective to redress the inequality and encourage a transformation for the future. As I was told from S’bu, the policies do not consider the whole of the South African people. The shack-dwellers can barely pay for food. To ask them to pay for school fees would, needless to say, strain their situation. Their poverty is being perpetuated when these parents need to save money instead of putting their money towards food and water.
Granted, policies for burdened parents do exist. Yet, schools are still restricting the children’s learning. The children’s shame inflicted by paying school fees that is felt by poor children is enough to impede their right to learning. It is not only poverty that affects their learning. Policies inflict stress on children by bringing their poverty into the classroom, indicating failure to redress the inequalities of schools. And as with Victoria’s daughter, failing due to shame, will preserve the class divide when inequality is perpetuated in the labor force.
The AGM meetings, the SBGs, and the structure of the user-fee system are attempting to encourage democratic participation. Instead, however, they are financially, mentally, and physically burdening poor parents not participating in governance. Following the policies set forth by the government, the schools determine fees and exemptions in the AGMs. The schools argue that they struggle for the parents to discuss their finances with them and to figure out a plan that works. Regardless of the community pool, the schools need the parents to supplement the small government allocation. With the risk of rejection and debt collection, poor parents will not send their children to wealthier schools. Still, the fees at the schools they are attending should be able to accommodate their financial abilities. The exemption policies, that Reddy said everyone knows about, are mostly unheard of in the Kennedy Road community, indicating failure in the policies themselves. Moreover, to get the poor access to education, Zulu translation needs to be enforced. To withhold information from the poor through the language barrier is emblematic of the inequalities of education.
As I illustrated few parents know or attend the AGMs and are consequently suffering with user-fees. If this should be blamed on the parents’ disinterest, as the administration urges, and is not enough to encourage policy change, then the responses of children should be. The democratic efforts, having SBGs set the fees, situates the ability of school supplements in an unequal setting. If the schools do grant exemptions for all the learners in their surrounding poor community, the schools will struggle to fulfill budget criteria. The disparity of school wealth will be exacerbated. Further, if the principals and SBGs have the opinions of Bhairoparosad in parent financial ability, they will still urge the parents to pay the fees and strain their finances. As I noted, his theories about welfare grant exemption and some no-fee schools indicate his thinking about parents’ ability to pay the fees. Abolishing the fee system and increasing government allocation to all needy schools is the only way to assure pressure taken off the parents and children.
Education is argued to receive the largest portion of the national budget, despite the recent decreases in 2006/7. Still the distribution and the policies needed to supplement it are enough to question the priority of redressing and transforming inequality. With the government’s macroeconomic agenda, learners and parents in poor communities are suffering to pay these fees and receive their right to education. If schools are to be part of the transformation, policy needs to be changed to allow access to the poor. The Kennedy Road shack-dwellers need to be eased of the burden of paying school-fees. As of right now, 14 years into the new ‘democratic’ government, the inequalities and silencing of the poor are being preserved through the school-fee policy and, needless to say, it should not continue.

Recommendations for Further Study
• A complete focus on school policy, including attendance at the AGM, interviewing school governing body members and officials at the school. Meetings with Department officials at both the Provincial and National level would be ideal.
• A more thorough study of parents’ relationships with schools. Perhaps doing a workshop on fee policy at the beginning of the study, then through participant-observation investigating how the parents follow through with letters and forms.
• A deeper study into parents’ opinions of government responsibility in grants and education. What should the government do for their children and what should the money be for?
• The role of the Principals in developing school policy.

Bibliography of Interviews
Personal interviews in chronological order
1) M’du Hlongwa- April 5, 2006
2) S’bu Zikode- April 19, 2006
3) Nancy Khebesi- April 19, 2006
4) Jabulani Zungu- April 19, 2006
5) Regina Ntsolo- April 19, 2006
6) Zandile Nxumalo- April 19, 2006
7) Daughter Nxumalo- April 19, 2006
8) A.K. Maharash (Palmeit)- April 24, 2006
9) Anbernarthan Reddy (Burnwood)- April 24, 2006
10) Zodwa Maduna- April 21, 2006
11) Flora Dlamini- April 21, 2006
12) Sbongile Khuzwayo- April 21, 2006
13) Zola Cele- April 21, 2006
14) Skhumbuzo Respect Cele- April 21, 2006
15) Victoria- April 21, 2006
16) Nonzukiso “Agnes”- April 21, 2006
17) S’bu Zikode- April 29, 2006
18) Nonhlanha Princess Mzobe- April 29, 2006
19) Jenny Adams (Rippon)- May 2, 2006
20) S. Bhairoparsad (Clareville)- May 2, 2006

Bibliography of Written Sources

African National Congress (ANC). 1994a. The Reconstruction and Development
Program: A Policy Framework. pg. 4. Pretoria: ANC.

Article 11, Section 3(a). South Africa signed this Organization of African Unity
document on October 10, 1997, and Ratified it on January 7, 2000.

Karlsson, Jenni, Gregory Mcpherson, and John Pampallis. “A Critical Examination of the
Development of School Governance Policy and its Implications for Achieving Equity.” 139-177. Education and Equity: The Impact of State Policies on South African Education. Sandown: Heinemann Publishers, 2001.

Motala, Enver and Pampallis, John. “Educational Law and Policy in Post-Apartheid
South Africa.” Education and Equity: The Impact of State Policies on South
African Education. Sandown: Heinemann Publishers, 2001.

Naidu, Usha. “Schools are like Businesses,” The Mercury. February 7, 2006.
http://www.themercury.co.za. 06/06/25.

Nicolaou, Katerina. “The Link between Macroeconomic Policies, Education Policies and
the Education Budget.” 53-104. Education and Equity: The Impact of State
Policies on South African Education. Sandown: Heinemann Publishers, 2001.

Oldfield, Sophie. “The South African State in Transition: A Question of Form, Function,
And Fragmentation.” 32-52. Education and Equity: The Impact of State Policies on South African Education. Sandown: Heinemann Publishers, 2001.

Pampallis, John. “Decentralisation in the New Education System: Governance and
Funding of School in the New South Africa 1992-1997,” 1998. Democratic Governance of Public Schooling in South Africa. Durban: Education Policy Unit, 1998.

Roithmayr, Daria. “An Overview of User Fee History and the Regulatory Framework,” The
Constitutionality of School Fees. Issue Paper 1, Sept. 2002: http://www.erp.org.za/htm/issue1-2.htm. 5/4/2006.

Roithmayr, Daria. “The Constitutionality of School Fees in Public Education,” The Constitutionality of School Fees. Issue Paper 1, Sept. 2002: http://www.erp.org.za/htm/issue1-2.htm. 5/4/2006.

Soobrayan, Bobby. “People’s Education for People’s Power,” 1990. Democratic Governance of Public Schooling in South Africa. Durban: Education Policy Unit, 1998.

Spreen, and Vally, Salim. “Education Rights, Education Policies, and Inequality in South
Africa.” IJED. (Not Yet Published).

Vally, Salim and Tleane, Console. “The Rationalization of Teacher and the Quest for
Social Justice in Education in an Age of Fiscal Austerity.” Education and Equity:
The Impact of State Policies on South African Education. Sandown: Heinemann
Publishers, 2001.

Vally, Salim. “Entrenching or Eradicating Inequality? Understanding the Post-Apartheid
State through its adoption and revision of the ‘User-fees’ option for School
Financing.” IJED. (Not yet Published).

Veriava, Faranaaz and Wilson, Stuart. “A Critique of the proposed amendments on
school funding and school fees,” Quarterly Review on Education. Vol. 6, No. 3,
Sept. 2005: Center for Applied Legal Studies.

Appendix 1
Resourcing targeting table based on conditions of schools and poverty of communities_
School Quintiles,
from poorest to least poor Expenditure allocation (percentage of resources) Cumulative percentage of schools Cumulative percentage of non-personnel and non-capital recurrent expenditure Per learner expenditure indexed to average of 100
Poorest 20% 35 20 35 175
Next 20% 25 40 60 125
Next 20% 20 60 80 100
Next 20% 15 80 95 75
Least poor 20% 5 100 100 25

Appendix 2
Calculations for full exemption:
If annual gross income is < 10 x annual school fees full exemption
Gross income (ex. R190/month Welfare Grant) R2280
School fees (ex. Burnwood Fees) R800 x 10= 8000
Conclusion R2280 < 8000 --> Full exemption
2006 Proposed Formula for Calculating a parent’s entitlement to a full exemption:_
[(E=F+T+fyo)], [--------] / [I] > [10%], [( Y+ yo)].
The Plan of Action define what each letter stands for as follows:
E per learner expenditure by parent in a school;
F annual school fees charged to any parent in the school;
T additional monetary contributions explicitly demanded by the school;
f the lowest of the following three values; first, the adequacy benchmark for the current year, second, the average fee charged to the parent in the school, and third, the avergage non-discounted annual fees charged in other schools;
yo the number of learners in other schools;
Y the number of learners for which a parent is charged annual school fees in the current school;
I combined gross income of parents;
10% and is of the gross income spent on education.

Appendix 3
Principal and Bursar Survey Instrument
How long have you been the prinicipal here?
If its calculated or determined, how does the school rank in terms of passing students? poor to wealthy schools? Do you think you are receiving adequate subsidy for this?
How do families choose Palmeit/Burnwood?
How many learners apply?
How many children can you admit?
How many students do you have from Kennedy Road?
What are your school fees? What are your enterance fees?
Do you speak to the families about fees?
How do speak to families about fees? How do you speak to them?
How are the fees determined?
Do you exempt children who cannot pay the fees? How do you determine who will be exempt or partially exempt?
Do you distribute copies of fees policies/exemption policies?
Do you ever take families to court? Why?
Does your school ask for the fees of the children who are not paying? How do they do this?
In a family, what if one child can pay and the others can’t would you prohibit the brothers/sister from entering?
Do you have any programs that provide uniforms or arrange transport?
Burnwood: A child has left school because she was going to go to a school on a farm. But because she had not paid fees the year before she left and thus was denied her reports, she was not able to go to the farm school. Would she be able to come back to Burnwood?
Have you ever considered having your fees waived?

Parent Survey Instrument
How long have you lived at Kennedy Road? Where did you stay before that? Why did you come here?
Tell me about your childhood. Were you able to attend school?
In what ways has education helped you in your life?
How do you make an income?
Are you able to afford school fees for the school your child wants or should attend?
What school does/should your child attend?
Has a principal or another person ever told you about not having to pay school fees?
Do you know how to apply for exemption?
Are there any other financial barriers preventing your child from going to school?
Besides the fees, what else is making schooling difficult?
What steps will you take to make sure your child gets into school?
Would you need assistance? What types of assistance?
Do you have the number to the school?
Have you spoken to the principal?
Did they charge you registration fees?
Are you on welfare grants?
Palmeit: Have you ever spoken with Princess?

Child Survey Instrument
What do you like to do everyday?
What do you think children your age should be doing?
Who pays/paid your schools?
Does anyone at school ask about your parents or guardians?
Do your friends live in the shacks?
Do you ever talk about money with your friends? Paying for school?

Appendix 4: Transcribed Personal Interviews
(Numbered according to bibliographical chronology)

Kennedy Road Community Members

April 19, 2006
1) S’bu Zikode: “We are so poor, but we don’t know that we are so poor. There is no access to knowledge. God likes us all. What makes us say that god wants us to be poor? The very reason that we’re poor is because we look poor. We work very hard. The very same reason we are dying everyday is what is making someone else very rich.
They don’t know that the policies don’t apply to us. The people in Pretoria are too high to learn about the experience of the informal settlements. We want them to see what we see, feel what we feel. We want to teach you about the poisonous air we breathe. How are we supposed to fit ourselves into the freedom charter? Into the constitution?”

April 29, 2006
18) S’bu Zikode: Why are children failing? Its not because they are not clever. They haven’t had any breakfast and then they get to school and they are reminded about how poor they are when they are asked for school fees. Schools don’t believe that the children can’t afford to pay. I don’t know about Palmeit, because my children attend Clareville and Burnwood. Burnwood is the only secondary school in the area so they can charge too high fees.

17) Nonlanhla “Princess” Mzobe
SS: The prinicpal at Palmeit says that you are involved a lot at Palmeit.
P: See parents don’t care about their child going to school. I call parents about giving what they have to help the poor school. Any small payments they can make can help. Parents don’t even go to the meetings. When we have a governing body meeting we try to organise the parents and they say things like ‘we can’t go, its an Indian school.’ And we tell them its important they go to the meetings because thats where we decide on school fees and you learn about not paying if you don’t have the money.
SS: How do you find the parents?
P: There is a teacher who likes blacks so much. See most of the children are from Kennedy Road. Few indians are left at Palmeit. Parents really don’t care. I go house to house trying to get them to come to meetings. During elections…I became an SBG member, but then I had trouble because my child wasn’t going to school there. But now that he is again I can go again. Except I didn’t go to the meeting this year because I was so big with my baby.
SS: How are the SBG meetings?
P: I was rude at the last one. See some Apartheid teachers were hitting the blacks saying their brains are twisted like their braids.
SS: Did you discuss the fees?
P: You cant bother the children, because if there is no money, there is no money. How can they pay? The school must raise the funds with beauty contests and stuff. Before they wouldn’t let the children if they couldn’t pay, but they’re good now they will take the kids.
SS: Why now? What changed?
P: They organize thing– dance, swings– everything is good. Last year it was supposed to last 3 to 5 days but only 2 because of rain.
SS: How often do you talk to the school then?
P: If they want something they will call.
SS: How many children go to Palmeit?
P: More than 800…. Letter to principal would be helpful because they never explain to principal that they can’t pay, they just continued to be bothered.

Parents (including Grandparents and Guardians) of Learners at Kennedy Road

3) Nancy Khebesi (60s) #5907
How long have you been living at Kennedy Rd? 10 yrs.
Attended school? She never attended school (couldn’t sign her name for permission to interview.)
Income? Receives R820/month for pension since last Nov.; before that she dug through the
dump to look for food.
What are your expenses? Twice a month for Parafin, R200/month, R70 insurance
Three Grandchildren: (before none were paying school fees)
1) Akhona: (standard 10) still doesn’t pay- everyday she say she needs the money the money the money, at the end of the month she needs the money to get the reports
~the teachers will take the reports and still ask for $- the child is responsible for telling the teachers about her grandmother having no $
2) Bonkosa- R250, she can afford to pay for Palmeit Primary monthly R50; R60/month transport
3) Tatu: (grade 1) given to aunti
Has anyone ever told you that you don’t have to pay? no
What could I do to help you get children into school? She needs someone to buy the lunchboxes,clothes and food
Principle told her about not paying school fees

4) Jabulani Zungu (mid 30s)
How long have you been living at Kennedy Rd? Since June ‘94
Attend school? Never went to school
Income: He and wife not working
How many children? Eight children- 2 work and 6 in school
How do you pay for school fees? “too difficult” (he doesn’t pay)
They still go to school without paying: “Yes I went to school to explain my problems and
the Principal was understanding. But they are still saying they need the paper.” They are
still asking for money. Doesn’t go to school to discuss, just ignores the paper. “They don’t ask everyday.”
Which schools do your children attend? 2 @ Palmeit Primary school: R250 each and uniforms The two boys are in high school (Burnwood).
Is there anything that I/somebody can do to help you concerning fees? “I need the help- but I
don’t know how to apply for the help”
He thinks his children feel embarrassed or ashamed at the continual prodding.
Is there anything else you want to say about school fees? “I can ask, if you can, how can I get
help”

5) Regina Ntsolo (50s) #1649
How long have you been at KRd? 8years
Attend school? No
How many children do you have? Two children: standard 1 and 5: Clareville Primary
Income? Pension for 4 yrs–not enough because she has to buy everything with this money.
Before she cut up cardboard and sold it.
Are they paying school fees? Yes 190R is hard to pay. She didn’t actually pay the fees this year
because “she got no money.”
Did someone tell you or did you fill out forms so you didn’t have to pay? She paid half, half, half but this year she will pay in Sept. No forms, just didn’t pay– teacher continually send the
letter that says she has to pay more.
She hasn’t done anything about the letter, if she gets the money then she will pay.
Is there anything anyone could help you with? She doesn’t want any help
How do your children feel about not being able to pay the fees? They feel ashamed cause other
babies can afford to pay the school fees

6) Zandile Nxumalo #5890 (mid 30s) **needs clothes and food
How many children? 3 Palmeit for 2 yrs they haven’t paid, still bothered with fees
What school do they attend or want to attend? Sizwe (st.6, 15yrs) attending school was refused access to Burnwood– sent affidavit to police and they still wouldn’t take
him, now he goes to Bonella (R150) and pays R4/day for transport
Did you speak to the principal? He (Burnwood) told them “all mommies will send babieswithout $ if he takes the baby.” “She sends the baby to the school without the money.”
Principal (Palmeit) phones/sends letters for fees- Zandile say that they will send money
when they can-
Principal has not informed about exemption

7) Sizwe Nxumalo (9yrs)
Have teachers ever ask you for fees? (Nods)
How does this make you feel? Ashamed (she begins to cry and the interview stops).

April 21, 2006
10) Zodwa Maduna (late 20s?) #384
How long have you lived at KRd.? 9yrs
Attend school? Yes
How many children? 4 children- one died diseased, 8, 6, 3
What school do they attend? Palmeit Primary-
Are you paying school fees? not paying
Have you spoken to the Principal? Have not. She talked to one of the ladies who is working in the school to tell the principal- still asking children
Income? She has no money for food
Do they ask for school fees? after R50 registration fee/each child balance for fees still standing
How do they ask for school fees? sent letter three times this year. Yesterday (April. 20): made a class announcement “anyone who hasn’t paid has to pay”
Children talk about how they feel after this? she feels bad

11) Flora Dlamini (50s)
How many children? 2 children
Attend which school? Burnwood
Source of Income? “She tries because she is a vender.”
Are you paying fees? She afforded to pay for one child
Have you spoken to the Principal? Tried to negotiate with the prinicpal that she won’t pay for one, but he said no she has to pay for both. He asked her to make arrangements to pay R10/month, etc. but she can’t even buy groceries.
-Thus, the one child stays home (gr. 7 st. 8) because “principal is refusing”
She thinks the Burnwood principal is wrong in what he is doing- her children attended Palmeit Primary and the prinicpal allowed her to pay for one and school there.
How does your child respond to this? The other child would like to attend school- if it
happens that she could go back to school she would
How do you get uniforms and transport? She was once helped by another Indian by the name regie, he was paying for the children, buying them school uniforms, but she doesnt know what happened– he just stopped

12) Sbongile Khuzwayo (60s) 410
How many children? 2 grandchildren- 9 and 11
Which school do they attend or want to? Palmeit Primary
Income? She receives no income from parents
Paying fees? She is the one that pays the fees- she took them to school and they were registered but she hasn’t paid any money.
Attending? The principal or the teachers were sending messages that they have to be paid,
but because she had to be in hospital for the amputation (one leg, up to knee) she
says that they must stay at home. They sometimes attend but most of the time they
are at home– they are running away from those messages that they have to pay.
Uniforms and transport? ask ppl and walk
Is there anything we could do to help the children? She talked to a social worker at Clare Hospital and she transfered her to Durban social workers, they said its not their job to help her, waiting for welfare to help her.
Have you spoke to SBGs or principal about letting the children into school? yes she did talk to the Principal and he said she has to make an affadavit at the police station, but its difficult for her to walk

13) Zola Cele (18yrs) 425
When and where did you attend school? Left Burnwood this year to move to another school but because she didn’t pay the fees the previous year, they wouldn’t give her her reports. She wasn’t able then to go to the farm school.
Spoke to Principal? Went to talk to the secretary and they told her to come back with parents, but parents live on the farm.
Income and paying fees? Stopped being able to pay fees when her brother died
Response? Very willing to go back and repeat a year. Most of her friends at school are poor and cannot pay.
Knew about the right to education but didnt know who to talk to about it, thought her mother would take care of it.

14) Skhumbuzo Respect Cele (23yrs) #425
When and where did you attend? Left Chesterville school in 2004(?) because father died and couldn’t pay for transport.
Income and paying fees? he didn’t try to go to another school cause he had no one to support him.
Why Chesterville and not Burnwood? Father thought closer schools were too expensive so
father said he would pay the money for transport.
Response? now he wants to go back to school
Knew about right to ed. but didn’t know who to talk to about it

15) Victoria (50s) #440
How many children? 1
Where did/do they attend? Child started at the creche then went to Palmeit Primary then sent to Centenary. She passed St.7 after she found out she can’t afford paying R800 after R50 entrance fee. Took her to Inanda (black school instead of a multi racial school) where the fee is R180.
Child’s response? She has failed a grade up until she was pulled out at grade 10, now in 11
Has she ever been told about exemption? No
Has she tried to talk to the principal at centenary? Yes. Fees must be paid no matter what.
Know about right t education? She didn’t know every child has a right to ed. but now she knows something- “so thankful.”

16) Nonzukiso “Agnes” (early 30s) #440
How many children: 2 children–13 and 15,
Which school did they attend? Were going to Palmeit primary but left cause they couldn’t pay. Paid half until ‘99 then they went back to farm
Speak to principal? He said she must have the money so they went back to farm in transkei.
Heard about right to education? She didn’t know about the law. (Asked M’du to explain rights)

Interviews with Principals and Bursar of Schools in the Kennedy Road Area

April 24, 2006

8) Palmeit Primary Principal: A.K. Maharash
Principal: What they told us at the regional meeting we attended this year is that the interviews, to press and to whoever is not our responsibility. Our main job is to run the school. Any information that anyone requires generally has to be given from the education department. The education department in KZN employs a PLO for that party in government and what they told us was that in the event of information that goes out to the press and they become aware that company ‘x’ said that– we can be charged for misconduct. That is what they told us. So now the purpose of this research, I see now that you give me the right not to answer the questions and so on… in a lot of ways I would like to help you with your research because I am also a student who believes in you researching and getting information. Basically this is what my doctorate thesis is all about.
Tell me did you go to any other schools in the area?
Saren Stiegel: Yes I will be going to Burnwood.
P: Ok then lets proceed with the interview and I have the option to remain anonymous.
SS: How long have you been the Principal at Palmeit and where were you before?
P: This is my third year. Before that I was in Bonella, Cato Manor.
SS: How do you think this school ranks in comparison to Bonella?
The economic type of the parents, at Kennedy Road and Bonella is the same because they are educating learners from the informal settlement as well as low socially economic people. The educating is very very similar.
SS: Do you think families are drawn to Palmeit and Bonella because its cheaper? Why do you think they choose the school?
P: If you look at Palmeit, many children are coming here because we are offering quality, in terms of our education. Because here the product of our learners, who are not necessarily from the area itself are coming here because, obviously one is the fee factor, and two is that they can see that from time to time we are basically on the upward mobility.
SS: How many learners apply each year?
P: This year we had quite a bit, I don’t know the actual figures. See now how we judge our learners is that the ones that go out are generally in the grade seven, so last year we had about 50 learners out so if 50 go out that means, without anyone else, we’re supposed to have 320 learners. But this year we have about 405 learners, so obviously we got about fifty more learners. Approximately I would say, about 1500 learners came in in 2006.
SS: Do all the children pay fees?
P: You see the school fees policy is a very tricky situation, because we have a monthly meeting where we set our school fees, right? Now when I came here I adopted a very simple policy is that, where those people who don’t pay school fees are achieving, (signals to Lungi), you see she knows now, we do not hand over to debt collectors or other collection agencies where people have to go and confiscate or take the TVs and what have you to get the school fees. We don’t do that. But we make an appeal to the parents with letters that they have to pay the school fees.
SS: Do you ever approach the children about paying?
P: No no we never approach the children. At our assemblies we make announcement about paying the school fees. We send a letter at the beginning of the year to the parents to tell them how they can pay the school fees. Maybe its R50 a month, or R20/ month or a R100/month. Whichever way they can afford to pay. So we have a meeting with the parents and then we need to follow that up with letters to the parents.
SS: What do you do if the parents say they are not able to pay fees?
P: See the parents who cannot pay, they normally will come and see us. Then obviously we refer that to the governing body. But like I said in the beginning, it is very typical if the parents can’t pay we don’t use collection agencies. At the same time the parents come and tell me that they can’t pay the school fees, I will remind the parents of all the commitments of the school has to pay and we tell the parents that if they cannot pay school fees as a whole then they can come and pay whatever half they can pay. See because the subsidies that we get from the department, obviously, is not enough for us to run the school properly and thats where the governing body comes in. We supplement the government subsidy with fundraising and so on.
SS: Do you have any exemption policy or forms people can fill out or is it just by conversation?
P: The exemption policy is part and parcel of the school. We all know it. But if we have for example, a 100 learners coming from an informal settlement and if all 100 apply for fee exemption, they still have to come to school. So what we have said is that we understand your economic plight is low but we make an appeal to them to give something to our school fees. Because at the end of the day, if all the learners apply for an exemption from school fees, whatever subsidy we get from the department is not going to allow us to run the school in terms of telephones and so on. So we need to make an appeal, that we know your economic plight is bad but if you want your children to get quality then obviously you have to pay. Someone has to pay for it.
SS: What if one child in a family can pay and one cannot, will you accept both children?
P: Yes we do. You see the learners get the letters and we obviously inform them of the amount they owe is so much… if they can’t afford to pay the school fees we give them ideas on how to go about getting the school fees for us. They can go to the churches, they can go to the business houses, so instead of saying “I can’t pay” they can ask somebody. There is a lot of people obviously that can sponsor them. For a lot of parents, people came in and paid school fees in order to sponsor. At the school and educators, we go out into the communities and businesses houses and say “we need your help.” So you see, we might not get lots of money, but we may get some.
SS: Are the letters in ways of being creative, are they in English or Zulu?
P: Most of our letters, we send them out in English. The reason is that, well, I know that some of them may not understand English, but most of our parents will understand English. The reason is that we are 12 years down from philosophy, most of them will understand. And all the children that come to school, they know English. So obviously now the form of communication and the learners of our school fees is in English… yeah but I don’t think our parents have a problem with the language. So far, and I’ve been here for three years, no parent has told me that they have problem with Zulu.
SS: So are there forms for your exemptions? You see, we send letters home for the parents. What we do is that every child gets a letter, each teacher has there own ways of reminding them. Every learner is supposed to have a portfolio and in that file we keep all the assessments and so on. The teachers keep letters in the file and the students give a letter to the parents. So thus far we havent had a problem. If we send a note that we want to see the parents, the parents usually come. We have our governing body members and if there is a problem we ask them to go take a look at the parents.
SS: Who is part of the governing body?
P: Parents. Most of them, all of them.
SS: What is the racial breakdown?
Its mixed.
SS: The R250 school fees– they reflect all the financial levels of the parents?
P: You see R250 for the whole year, if you look at it, you can’t get it anywhere cheaper than that. The returns of school fees varies, in 2004 we had 60% return. Because generally our collection rate is very good. The parents realize that the children that are coming here they are getting something in return. In the parents meeting we tell them that if you can’t afford the fees you go out and ask someone else. With R250 being so little many people are very responsive. We at the school dont hear that they cant afford the fees and just leave it. We ask people. We are very creative.
SS: For poor people living at Kennedy Road, still struggling with the fees, is there anything you can do for them?
P: If the parents can’t pay the fees then they must come to me. Whats important here is that if they can’t afford to pay the fees we are not going to go and take them to court. So now its basically up to the parents to know that we have these things to pay for, we have the budget meeting.
SS: Communication seems to be struggling because parents can’t walk or they don’t have the phone numbers…
P: See every letter we send out has the phone number
SS: Can I have a copy?
P: No I would have to check with the department.
P: Princess comes and communicates problems with the commitee.
SS: Transport and uniforms?
P: Uniforms we have basic white dresses and school ties. No programs for uniforms. I would like to have every child wearing a tie but unfortunately if they can’t afford it. This year we made arrangements with a man who drives a taxi and he brings over the learners. Otherwise the parents have to make their own arrangements.
SS: If they’re far, they would have to pay extra for that?
I suppose so.
If the children are orphans?
P: See at Palmeit we are very unique. We are a step ahead of most people. If the parents are not around, we have Princess there and the drop in center. We make arrangement that way. We dont say if you cant pay school fees you cant be accepted. The lines of communication is always open. We get a lot notes from the community and we deal with the issues at hand. The parents are aware that they are free to come here and talk. And most of them do. Parents come first– thats my policy. Whether they pay the fees or not– they still get quality education. We are not compromising that. The ones who can afford the school fees will pay and the ones who cannot will not pay, obviously. We are coming from a struggling area where we had nothing. But are pride is in educating our people. It doesn’t matter if they are underpriveleged whether they are educated. They must be educated. They need more education then anyone else. The under priveleged ones– we need to hold them by the hands and educate them.

9) Burnwood Bursar: Anbernarthan Reddy
Saren Stiegel: How many learners come to Burnwood?
Bursar: 1230
SS: Do you ever deny learners because they can’t pay school fees?
B: No, no, no. (of course not tone)
SS: Do you have exemption policies?
B: Yes, stated by the department, you know.
SS: Do you have copies of those forms? Can I get them?
B: Yes we do have. Yes I can give them to you.
SS: How do you discuss this with the parents?
B: You see if they can’t afford to pay, they come in with learner and we’ll get them the forms and they will fill out the forms. Then the Principal will present that to the governing body and they will decide whether you get 80, 100 percent.
SS: And is that all included in the form?
B: Yes.
SS: How many families are not paying?
B: Its a lot, ey. But just to show you roughly, (shows me the list, or book, of outstanding balances). See Grade 12, this one has 2000, but the school fees are only 800. See 1-5, 1-6, its more than one year, its two year, three years, this is going on. If you look at it 2-7.
SS: So how do you approach the parents?
B: We approach them and they promise us they will pay and you see, the balances will go up. Some of them can, you know that? I mean, they can afford it but they don’t. In fact, they spend more on the tuck shop. They are having money to spend at the tuck shop on a daily basis.
SS: But if they seriously cannot pay?
B: Then they apply for the exemption.
SS: How do they know how to apply?
B: When we have the annual general meeting (AGM), we tell them about it; we inform them. And when the Principal send letters out, he tells them of the exemptions as well. They know, its been done over and over again every year.
SS: How are the fees determined?
B: Determined by the governing body. Its according to the budget.
SS: The forms, are they in English or Zulu?
B: Its all in English.
SS: What happens if they don’t speak English or read?
B: Its an English medium school. Its all in English. They will explain it even if they speak Zulu. Its an English medium otherwise you wouldn’t be here.
SS: But is it really the parents fault if they haven’t had English education?
B: Well the children here will understand. Seven to twelve- they will understand and explain.
SS: Do you ever deny students their reports?
B: No, no, no, we give them their reports even in grade 12. They will come and collect them. Their certificates, they will come and collect their results sheets.
SS: If a child has missed a year of school because she couldn’t pay the fees and was denied her reports, could she come back?
B: Yes they will take you. Even if you missed a year.
SS: Does it always have to be a parent that registers the child? Or can a child register themself?
B: See in grade 8 this year, if you are coming in for the first time… at the end of the first year, second year, third year– you are already in our system. You are no more new. Come in with your guardian or your mother.
SS: If one child cannot pay the fees and a brother or sister can, is there a system that works with that?
B: Yeah yeah yeah they can.
SS: Do you have any programs that provide uniforms or transport?
B: No, what you mean? They have to provide your own uniform. We don’t sell or manufacteur them. Company makes them. No, they buy bus tickets. There are schools near where they are living but they choose to come here.
SS: Why do you think families choose Burnwood?
B: They don’t only come here. They choose other schools as well.
SS: Why do you think they come here; Is this a better school?
B: Other learners in the family were here maybe. An d they follow that. They like to come here.
SS: How does the school rank in fees?
B: We are, in fact, low. We have the Annual General Meeting and we didn’t even change the fees. It was about 600 for three years. We keep them the same but we can’t keep it that way year in and year out. Everything goes up. You have different policies and the politics, they want to fund certain schools and not others.
SS: How does the school rank in terms of matric results and passing students?
B: Yeah we are doing well. The ranking? 89 percent.
SS: When parents apply to the school do they have to ask for the form? How do you distribute it?
B: You don’t automatically get it. You can’t give it to everybody. But they all know about it. Yes, they announce it at the AGM.
SS: But what if they don’t/can’t come to the AGM, because of walking, transport, English? B: They will tell them what the school fees are and a little bit later tell them about the forms. Then they will get them in the office.
SS: When they apply to come to Burnwood, they find out about these meetings?
B: Yes. But they send out letters, outstanding school fees, and the forms.
SS: You send the letters with the children or post them?
B: The children.
SS: Do you think the parents always receive those letters?
B: Yes yes they receive them. Yes that letter they will take home. They may not get the reports. They know what letters to take home.
SS: Do you have any advice for the parents to fill out the forms or to learn about them?
B: We assist them, I mean to fill out the forms.
SS: Half way through the year?
B: Yeah you can. “I’m not emplyed now but I was,” you know.
B: We have a fun run where they get a sheet with like 20 lines and they go around. That money you will collect to go towards your school fees. 40, 50, 60 rand go towards fees.

May 2, 2006
19) Rippon Primary School Principal: Jenny Adams
SS: How long have you been the principal here?
P: Since ’98, my first job was a teacher and then I became the principal.
SS: How many learners apply each year?
P: New learners, about 200. We normally accept all the children who apply.
SS: How many children are in each grade? Limit to how many you admit?
P: About 42- 44. We normally keep it to about 44 but we have had a class with about 50.
SS: How much are your school fees? Registration fee?
P: Our school fees are R500/year. No its part of the school fees. We parents pay a down payment.
SS: Do you have exemption policies?
P: Yes. We tell parents who cant pay the previous year at the budget meeting. Those who cannot pay need to come in and see us personally. We give them a form and we ask for proof of unemployment, unemployment card, the {pay slip} for the amount that they are supposed to pay, and affidavit from the police station stating that they are unemployed. Then the governing body looks at all that at the beginning of the year and none have been turned down if they include all that. Normally the genuine cases do apply and we accept them on fee exemption policies, either full, partial, or conditional.
SS: Do you take families to court?
P: No, no.
SS: Do you have any children from the informal settlements?
P: Yes about 400. You a lot of parents are shy to say that they live there and they give us fictitious addresses and phone numbers. Cause often we find, when we have to call a parent for whatever reason, that the address and phone number dont exist. Maybe they don’t want be found but usually its just embaressment.
SS: Do you send letters home–
P: We send letters asking them to come in, but usually the child doesn’t take the letter home. So how do you get a hold of the parents?
SS: Do you talk to children about the fees?
P: Yes we do, especially when it gets close to the cut off date, but we try to request the fees early. Then we wait for the parents to pay. Because you know its only R500. Half the parents are not paying it. But only about 200 children are really really poor and we have another 100 who are on grants, who live with grandparents, so they are exempted. Then I think we have about 200 parents that just don’t pay. They just refuse to pay, they don’t apply for exemption– they wont come near us. We know these parents can afford them. We look at the children; are they dressed in a funny way? With the conditional grants we allow them to not pay until they get a job and then request them to just come and help. Maybe on a sunday, maybe come and help with marshalling on a work day, then the parents say that they are working. And if they’re working then they should be paying fees. Its an ongoing battle.
SS: Do you have any programs that provide uniforms or transport?
P: Ummm, no. We do have parents that when their children leave they do give us the uniforms, which we do give to children who cant afford it.
SS: So you always accept the children regardless of whether or not they can pay fees?
P: Yeah yeah. We want to avoid all those legalities. And usually we have no problem. Its just that the department likes us to do our admissions this year and quite often we find that when it comes to January parents apply because they are now searching for a place for their children and most times schools are full by then. And then we ask them to be put on a waiting list and many parents feel that you dont want to give them a spot. But why would we not want to do that? Thats our job: education. When we lose children, we lose teachers. Thats the way the department is. We do take children as long as we have room.
SS: Have you ever considered being a fee-free school?
P: Um I havent given it much thought because from the looks of things its only going to be the poorest of the poor schools. We are seen as one of the more advantaged schools because of the building, but we are serving (her emphasis) a disadvantaged community completely. Our children travel from the townships and from informal settlements. They travel from the townships. What we found now is that parents are paying enormous amounts in travel fees so they dont have to pay more in fees. If your paying the transport then you should be able to afford the fees. The way our school is run, we get a pittence from the department and we rely on those fees. We cant do anything else. Look at our fence– we desperately need a fence.
P: We have often said, if the government could subsidize for cleaning and security, lights and water, then we would be able to give to the business of education. We have to pinch and save because there is a priority for this and writing materials and there are a lot of parents who cant afford to supply it. So we supply it and we cant do much more.
SS: Do you think a lot of parents know about the exemption policies?
P: Yes a lot of parents know about it and they dont go and apply for whatever reason. it may be embaressment. But I know my parents know about it because they come to the meeting. Not all come, but we send letters home.
SS: Are the letters in English or Zulu?
P: English. We have done it at one stage and the parents that come to the meetings, we have an interpreter. And we have asked them and they say no its not necessary. Most of them speak English and the grandparents speak English. The main reason for wanting {translation} is the exemption, but if you cant afford the fees then chose a school close to home where you dont have to pay transport and you dont have to pay so much fees. But they want their children to learn English. And we didn’t have a teacher here that translated the letters, but it seems to be unnecessary. You see when you’re translating into Zulu it takes up so much more space and so much time with the result that we tried it once or twice that we asked the parents and they said it wasn’t necessary. I feel that it is necessary. A lot might need it but they don’t want to say it. In the meeting you are talking to them and you can see some of those faces. I don’t know– maybe I should introduce that (she smiles).
SS: Why are your fees higher than Clareville or Palmeit?
P: Our fees were R100 when I became principal–the parents agreed to those fees actually. The governing body comes up with the budget and they present that to the parents and they’ve always agreed. For the last 3 yrs they’ve been at 500. Parents at the meeting said no dont raise the fees, we will participate in fundraising to make up the balance. Its fairly successful. But only those schools– all the other schools in the area charge more than 500. I think the school across the road is 600. We are all the same area 500, 550; we have come to that agreement so the parents aren’t rushing to the school that has the lowest fees. Clareville has a lot of refugee children so they get sponsorship.
SS: Do you get a lot of parents from the informal settlements helping?
P: No not at all. Even the ones that are exempted dont come. Just apathy. Maybe they working.
SS: What do you think about school fees as policy?
P: I would love for children not to have to pay school fees. I think that is what it should be. They have to pay for so much else. They have to buy uniforms, they have to pay for bus fees. They could buy the children’s books, buy the children books and read to the children. But now we have pay for lights and water and cleaning so the school must look presentable. And just our fence alone can tell you, these are not the things that match the school itself.
SS: Why do you think the parents want the school fees?
P: I don’t think the parents want the fees. I think if you told them that they dont have to pay the fees then it would make them the happiest people on earth. We present to them what are proposed budget is and they say “can we keep the fees the same.”
SS: What is the racial breakdown of the learners?
P: 700 black and about 250 coloured and indians- we have about 10. And no whites.
….A few years ago we tried to hand over parents to a debt collection agency and seemed to work quite well; parents were afraid and they paid. And then the next year we did it again and then the next year we tried and used a different debt collecting agency– I think many more schools have tried. The debt collecting agency seemed to me to be making a hell of a lot of money on that, because they were charging enormous amounts of interest and admin costs with the result that parents now had to pay the agency. And one or two parents brought their letters to me, showing me how much was added on and I was horrified. So last year I {presented} to the governing bodies, lets not have the collecting agencies. The GB members weren’t too happy about it but they said ok. Lets try to get it from the parents. They started mailing letters– it didn’t help because parents just couldn’t pay. Then we said that we were going to hand them over. I was going to go their cause becasue I thought being sorry for them didn’t help. If I wrote them the letters, we noticed that debt collecting agencies were charging enormous amounts and we don’t want the parents to go through this unpleasentness of being handed over if they paid the measly school fees that we asked. If you can pay our school fees, maybe not to Clareville, but to other primary schools who are doing a very good job in teaching, then we’re very very low. When I told other principals that its not R500 per month, they were horrified. I said its R500 a year.
SS: Is then quality at Clareville much lower?
P: No I’m not saying that. I’m saying Clareville has their own reasons why their charging low fees. Personally I feel if you don’t get a lot of money then you get lots of sponsorships. if you’re getting sponsorships, then obviously you can keep your fees lower. Also, their school is much smaller than mine. They have much less people.
SS: How bout the quality of Palmeit?
P: I think generally the quality of previously disadvantaged schools– they are all more or less the same. You go to a more advantaged school– a former white school– you’ll see the difference as you walk in the door. They have a history of advantage which we lack. We will never, as much as we try and as much money as the department gives us we will never reach that standard… But we will try very hard to give the children quality education.

P: … Businesses want to help the disadvantaged schools. When they see that we have running water and electricity, they don’t want to help us. They give computors to schools without electricity then they get stolen or lost.
… Parents are helping where they are paying higher fees versus the parents here, paying low fees, where we need the most help– it should be the other way around.

20) Clareville Primary Principal: A. Bhairoparsad
P: A lot of people have trouble understanding the complexity of education in South Africa. The more you are here the more you will find the more complex the situation becomes. Prior to Apartheid, education was divided into four education systems: one was for white ed., one was for indian ed, one was for coloured ed. and one was for bantu ed. However, when it comes to any government, they always allocate funding per learner. And you find that the white child was being subsidised the amount three times the amount of the black, indian, or coloured child. It made the education system a very unfair system if you look at it wholistically. If you look at there were certain people who were far more advantaged than the others and thats your dream of the nationalist government. Many of us have come up through the potholes of different institutions. But its great sacrifices the our parents made in order for us to reach the standards that we have reached in this country. However, there certain segments of South African society as well who are not willing to make sacrifices to improve their lot, even in this day and age. The idea of sacrifices is something which is in the subject of entitlement. Some people feel that they are now entitled because its a new government. This is a picture of what happened in the past and what we are now in. Maybe now you can focus on the current education system.
SS: How many learners attend Clareville?
P: I have 644 learners in my school and I have 11 and a half classrooms. The teacher ratios is from 1 is to 50 and two grades 1 is to 74.
SS: How many learners apply each year?
P: (Hesitation) You see the system of application is different from school to school. You’ll find that the better resourced school, the white schools, will complete their admission before the year end. But schools like ours, you’ll find that admission goes in the first days, second days. First term you will still find people coming in late from time to time. You see that there is a lot of migration of people from the rural areas to urban areas, different parts of Africa, the refugee, they tend to find a home in our school. Our admission is flexible in terms of the beginning of the year, but generally, per year, its about 200-250 new learners.
SS: Do you charge registration fees and what do you charge for your school fees?
P: There are no registration fees whatsoever. My school fees are R190/year, which we also give out free stationary, thats included in the R190. We give out something like 300 loaves of bread per week. We feed approximately 300 children/day.
SS: What are your exemption policies?
P: We have an exemption policy, which we follow in terms of the South African Schools Act. However, when we call for a budget meeting at the end of each year we get our parents attending. Now we present two budgets at my school, one is with exemptions, one is without exemptions. And this is a very poor community that we serve. You’ll find that we have the parents agreeing that if everyone pays school fees then the school fees will be cheap. Because the system of exemption is that one is paying for the education of the other. The bottom line is you want the rich to subsidize the poor, because what will happen is, if you subsidize 50 percent of your school, then the other 50 percent will be paying for their exemption. But if everyone puts their shoulders together and say “hey I’m going to make an effort to pay school fees, then their school fees are going to be reasonably priced.” And we don’t prepare to price our people out of the market this way, because if you put in the school fees, you will find that the parents are unable to send the children to school. And here in South Africa we have a new occupation: crime. And unfortunately, you’ll find that the adults normally use children to commit crime, because the South African courts will not take any action against children. So we wouldn’t want our children to be used as pawns in crime. We would rather have them in the classroom. So in order to attract them to come to a school, you have to have reasonably priced schools. All learners are accepted regardless of whether their parents are working, unemployed, or they’re not in the area. Because I also have refugees in the school. I have children from the DRC, children from Rwanda, from Burundi, Malawi.
SS: Do you receive sponsorship for these children?
P: Yes we do. It varies from year to year. You see we go out and use sponsorship drives. We don’t have functions at our school. You see we go to business or we go the embassy. We get sponsorship from the US as well. They made that promise about six months ago that the first shipment of goods, but it hasn’t arrived here. However, we are still very hopeful because we do understand that they do have lots to promise as well. They have to promise parts of Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa. So we hope that we will be the recipients of some of their good will. We get donations from individuals, as well. From different law companies, and business. It depends on who we approach. Every year we cant approach the same person. You need to be flexible and look at the other avenues of channeling money into your school.
SS: With these donations, do you still approach the parents?
P: What we do is, we expect parents to pay. Because in this day and age, to get quality education at R190 is the bolux. However, due to the poverty that we experience in the area, many of the parents are unable to pay. So we come up with an easy payment plan where they pay us R20/month. But even if R20 a month is still about financing, about 45 percent of the population is still not paying school fees. We try as hard as possible as well to try to encourage the parent to come and assist maybe in the school garden and unfortunately we don’t get very positive responses from the parents. However, I’m of the belief that they can’t afford it– to pay the R20 a month. Because this area absorbs quite a bit of the people from the informal settlements to work as domestics, casual workers, etc. The normal fee of the casual worker is normally about R40. So work five day/week as a casual laborer, but give us R20 from that to help your child’s education. Some of the parents are of the idea that there is the concept of entitlement. Certainly you will find that many of the parents are of the opinion that since the ANC has come into power and ANC pledged, initially when we had the first democratic elections, one of the pledges was free education for all, and free housing all, and free this for all and free that for all. But the government has realized that it fulfill all its promises. So as a result you have got the masses, who are uneducated and they heard “free” and now they expect “free.”
SS: How do you approach parents?
P: We send out notices to parents and we tell children that “school fees are due,” “please pay your school fees”. “Please keep the toilets clean,” “would you like to go to the toilet thats busting with chemicals?”
SS: Would you say you pressure them?
P: We motivate. We don’t pressure them. We don’t hand our parents over for collection at the end of the year.
SS: Do exempt parents that are on welfare grants or on pensions?
P: See that is when you get into a contentious issue. You see every child that lives with a parent and asks for a grant, is awarded a grant. The SA government makes sure they receive this amount of money. However, my concern is that if they are getting this money then they should be obligated to pay school fees. Because part and parcel of the welfare grant is maybe towards their child’s education. Normally in the public schools and you don’t want to pay school fees, what happens when it time for the child to go to university. Where do you take the child to then? Who is going to pay for the child to be at university? Part of social welfare is to pay for basic education of the children. And then they will get into the idea that when they go to university, you cant expect the parents to pay for their education. Because even with financial aid, there is still a portion of the fees that have to be paid by parents. There is also a problem with welfare grants. Becuase when a lady come to your school with two children on a grant. She will come back to your school and all of a suddenly she has four. Where did she have the other two when she becomes an adoptive parent and then she applies for welfare grants? See a lot of the parents use the grant systems to live their own lives. I am of the belief that if a lady want to receive a grant from the state she shouldn’t be allowed to have any more children. Because who is going to care for the other child? Its a matter of choice. Its not necessary to have babies to be sexually active…
SS: Have you ever thought about making your school a fee-free school?
P: It is in fact our next step. We will be taking the department to court. We are waiting for the allowment to come, whereby they’re going to announce the schools that are part of the free schooling. The department needs to do that to all the schools. See the South African government is allowing refugees into the country. See the refugees are allowed to be here as well. Many of our freedom fighters have gained refugee status in other countries. The idea of refugees is entirely acceptable but at the same time you need to encourage your refugees to become active members of the economy…
SS: How many students are from Kennedy Rd?
P: From Kennedy, I would be lying to you if I told you the exact figure. We don’t distinguish from the informal settlements. There is the belief that they have an ego. “Where do you live?” “Oh, you live in the Kennedy Road informal settlement.” And what about the other children who are living in a flat? We don’t want to demoralize our children. We try to distinguish children by the places that they live or the homes that they come from.
SS: Wouldn’t it help decipher who can pay?
P: You when a child comes to our schools we do have them fill out an admission form. What you will see in the black culture in South Africa is that the man will have a child from this woman here then he will have a child from another woman. I dont know whether its culture or what but these people have many children from many different women. And the burden of the child is left to the woman. In fact our education system needs to start focusing on that.
SS: What is the racial breakdown of the school?
P: We have about 99 percent black.
SS: Do all the parents attend the budget meetings?
P: With the school pop. 644 children, you get about 60 parents coming to the meeting. Thats good. You will find out from the other schools you have 10 parents, 15 parents present.
SS: How will the parents know and decide about the exemption policies if they don’t attend the meeting?
P: You cannot be oblivious to the law. Your school is like order in the classroom, order in the court room. Your school is inviting you to a meeting and if you are so keen and you can’t afford to pay school fees, etc. You will come and hear your view there. Because we are all adults in the meeting. You have the right to say “I cannot afford to pay school fees.” And maybe the other parents who attend will hear the idea that there are people who cannot afford to pay school fees. Maybe they will look at the partial exemption, depending on the parents and the children. But at R190 a month there a lot of possible exemption and I think that person is really overstating his or her bounds.
SS: Are the meetings in English or Zulu?
P: We have the English meetings and we have a Zulu interpreter. Because part of the governing at the school are Zulu speaking as well.
SS: Do you have any programs for uniforms? Do you provide transport?
P: We are not too particular on uniforms, the reason being that the children are coming from very poor homes and we do not impress upon them, overly, to where school uniforms. However, we do go out to people to get donations. The organization ICare, an NGO, which looks to the upliftment of street children. This year they gave me school uniforms to the value of R8000, which we gave to the children. At the end of each year we ask that children bring in their old uniforms.
No we do not provide transport. Our children have to find their own means of transport.

Appendix 5

Letter Templates for the Workshop

Dear A.K. Maharash/ A. Bhairopasad,

(Option 1:) I am receiving assistance to translate this into English. My child/grandchild, (name of child) attends your school. I am currently paying/being asked to pay school fees, which are too high for my financial situation. I am unemployed and, though you do not have formal exemption policies, I wish to lessen my burden of fees.

(Option 2:) I am receiving assistance to translate this into English. My child/grandchild, (name of child) attends your school. I am currently paying/being asked to pay school fees, which are too high for my financial situation. I am on a grant/pension that is barely enough to pay for food and living needs. I request that my obligation to pay fees be revoked on the basis of my struggling financial situation.

(All Parents) I have not been in contact with you because
a) I am ashamed of my financial situation.
b) I was unaware of the policies and the right concerning school fees and my child’s education.
c) I am also struggling to understand the letters and meetings in English.

I am now requesting a meeting with you to assure that the payment of my fees be arranged according to my financial situation. I will follow up with a call to make a date and time for our meeting. Thank you in advance for your time.

Yours faithfully,

____________________
Name