Understanding School Fees and Quintiles in South African Public Schools

School fees are an integral part of South African public schools, aimed at improving the quality of education for learners. In this article, we’ll break down the concept of school fees, the quintile system, and the rights and responsibilities of parents and schools in managing these fees.

According to the South African Schools Act (SASA), all public schools must supplement government funding by charging school fees and engaging in other forms of fundraising. It’s important to note that school fees do not include registration fees, administration fees, or other additional fees. Schools may not charge extra fees for additional subjects chosen by learners within the school program.

‘No-fee schools’ are public schools that have been declared exempt from charging school fees, and their names are published in a Provincial Gazette. The criteria for determining these schools are based on the economic level of the surrounding community.

The school fund comprises school fees, fundraising money, and donations, and it’s the responsibility of the School Governing Bodies (SGBs) to manage these funds in one bank account. Public schools are not allowed to have multiple accounts.

Public schools have the right to take legal action against parents who do not pay school fees, but only after applying the exemption criteria and determining that the parent is still liable for the fees. During the legal process, the learner must continue attending school.

Learners cannot be excluded from school programs, matric farewells, or sporting events due to non-payment of school fees by their parents. Additionally, schools may not withhold a learner’s report because their parent cannot afford to pay the fees.

The quintile system in South African public schools classifies schools into five groups, from the poorest (Quintile 1) to the least poor (Quintile 5). Each year, the Minister determines the national quintiles for public schools, which the MECs use to identify schools that may not charge fees. Government funding for schools is allocated based on these quintiles, with Quintile 1 schools receiving the highest allocation per learner and Quintile 5 receiving the lowest.

Parents and the school community should be aware of their school’s quintile and the funding they will receive. If parents and the SGB believe their school is not classified under the correct quintile, they have the right to lodge a dispute. Provincial and District offices must inform parents and schools of the dispute procedures to be followed.

In conclusion, understanding school fees, no-fee schools, and the quintile system in South African public schools is essential for parents and school communities. By staying informed about these aspects, parents can better advocate for their children’s education and ensure a fair and equitable learning environment.