Parents at Nomsa Mapongwana Primary School in Khayelitsha were left flabbergasted when the principal together with the school management informed them that they were now required to buy books at the school for their children at an amount of R250 per child.
The meeting was held at the school premises on Sunday January 20.
One of the parents whose identity is known to Vukani, and asked to remain anonymous as she feared for her children’s wellbeing, said parents were all shocked to learn that they must now buy books.
The 39-year-old mother of three who has two children attending the school, said according to their knowledge, the government provides free books to pupils and parents have to buy stationery such as crayons and glue, but not books.
She said when parents asked the principal about the books provided by the Department of Education, he could not provide them with a proper response.
The fuming parent said the school also requires them to pay an additional R250 per child as part of the school fundraising initiative, meaning that she has to pay an amount of R1000 to the school.
The unemployed mother said there is no way that she could afford this.
But she said the main question that parents asked the school was why the Department of Education did not inform them last year that they would have to buy books for their children.
“The school arrogantly told us that if we do not want to buy the books at the school you can buy them at a shop of your choice.
“I bought the books at one of the shops here at Khayelitsha mall for an amount of R160.
“When things are stolen at the school, we as parents must fork out money to replace those things.
“I asked myself if this school is not getting any financial support from the Department of Education.
“I have a child that is doing Grade 6 and in previous years it was not like this until we got a new principal.
“During the meeting, the principal and the management wanted to know our children’s name when we speak because they want to victimise our children.
“I was shocked to learn that in the other schools, children get books from the school as per norm. If had money I would not have sent my children there due to the amount of money they keep asking for.
“And when we say that we cannot afford it, they keep telling us about the child grant as if we are getting millions,” she said.
Department of Education spokesperson, Bronagh Hammond, said the department is investigating the claims regarding the stationery.
But she said they were aware that parents had been requested to voluntarily contribute R250 towards the hiring of a school guard, which is paid by the School Governing Body (SGB). This is not a new initiative, she said, as parents have been assisting the school in this regarding in the past.
She said that no-fee schools receive norms and standards funding to provide stationery to their pupils. Schools may request that parents contribute to their children’s stationery list, but at no-fee schools she emphasised that it must be voluntary.
If parents are concerned about any contribution they are being asked to make at a no-fee school, she said they urge them to have a discussion with the school to clarify that it is voluntary, or report it to their education district office.
In most of the cases raised with us, she said they discover that it is a misunderstanding or miscommunication of a request for voluntary contributions.
Most schools have fundraising initiatives. This must be on a voluntary basis.
The chairperson of the School Governing Body, who refused to reveal her identity, told Vukani that every school has its own policies. She refused to respond to the complaints and dropped the phone call.