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Thread: Education and childrens rights

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    Full Member MadJan's Avatar
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    Question Education and childrens rights

    Hi All,

    Can a government run school turn a child away from being admitted because his family cannot afford school fees? I know of a family that is rather poor, their son was meant to be admitted into school this year, but was turned away because they don't have the funds to pay up. Is this legal? I want to help them but i am not sure how to go about it.....any suggestions?
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    Diamond Member adrianh's Avatar
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    Our school fees are not paid up front in full. I would be very surprised if the school fees are paid up front at that school. This means that the parent must be in arrears for the previous year(s) What is a school to do if they have 1000 kids who are paid to date and will probably pay for the next couple of years and then there are 100 kids who can't afford to pay. Lets say that the school can only accomodate 800 kids, who gets accepted. I am at a total loss to understand how schools are supposed to function, they are not able to force parents to pay, yet they are also not allowed to pay teachers more if parents are willing to pay more. We want the best education for our kids yet as parents, most people just sit on their butts and say it is not their responsibility, its the government and the schools. Parents take no interest in the kids nor the schools yet if anything goes wrong they are all up in arms.

    Ok, end of rant!
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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    No. They must admit the child.
    The school may have an "application" process. It is very unusual for a school to deny the child being admitted.
    I suggest a letter (need not be an attorney letter) asking for admittance, alternative;y what the process is and in the event that they are denying what are the reasons therefore.

    You may be able to get assistance from ProBono.Org on 031 301 6178 (www.probono.org.za), they assist with legal issues and or obtaining attorneys to act on probono basis IF the case meets certain criteria.
    Anthony Sterne

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    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    In terms of the South African Schools Act of 1996 as amended - Section 5.3 (a)
    No learner may be refused admission to a public school on the grounds that his or her parent –

    a) is unable to pay or has not paid the school fees determined by the governing body under section 39;
    It is also advisable to read sections 39 to 41 to understand the responsibilities of the parents and the schools when it comes to payment of school fees issues.

    The Act is available on Acts online under the education section.
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    Diamond Member tec0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
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    Diamond Member adrianh's Avatar
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    What happens when the school is totally full and the child is not from the feeder area?
    I do not believe that this lot is as clear cut as you may believe.
    We are trying to get the girls into various schools, there are waiting lists a mile long...for public schools.
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    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    Just recently there was a case in Jhb where the school rejected a kid because they were full. The The DET took the school to court and won the case. This of course has set a precedent, which can have immeasurable consequences, both to the school and students and at the end of the day, the financial burden to the school.
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrianh View Post
    What happens when the school is totally full and the child is not from the feeder area?
    That's a different issue from the affordability one, and I agree can be more complex. Generally in that situation the school will advise that they must prioritise applications from within the feeder area and reject the application on those grounds - I doubt affordability would even be mentioned in that case.

    The one thing that slays me about this school fees issue is over the years I've had a number of relatively low-earning staff members who have made incredible sacrifices to get their kids into good schools and paid the school fees that went with it without complaint! They just want to set up a better life for their kids than the prospects and education they had for themselves.

    And I've seen it at school general meetings on school fees too. Often times the loudest voices saying "pay up or go to another school" were "worker class PDI*" parents.

    The non-paying parents were often times quite clearly middle class, with kids generally delivered to school in mom or dad's shiny new car rather than hi-ace taxis. And when you tackled them directly about it, affordability suddenly wasn't why they weren't paying. They would most often say "a childs education should be free - it is the government's responsibility and government must pay." They were "standing on principle."

    Pointing out that the government's "no school fees" school was just over the hill on the wrong side of the tracks and there were plenty of vacancies there generally didn't go down well

    I must confess it's been a few years since I've had school going kids though, and about 10 years since I was obliged to pay attention to school management matters directly - things might have changed since. I also confess I tend to agree that it is the government's responsibility to ensure there are enough quality education facilities available to provide free primary education to all.

    It's a tough one, and I have empathy for the kids, the parents and the schools. However, I firmly believe the kids should not be the victims in this, and the legal position is very clear - public schools can't reject the student on the grounds of affordability.

    But then I also believe government ministers (national and provincial) shouldn't be issued fancy cars, given free travel perks, allocated fancy houses, be put up in 5 star hotels etc. until there is a free, quality basic education program in place for every kid in this country either. So my thoughts on this can probably be disregarded as that of a madman.

    *as much as I hate using the term, I think it's the shortest way to paint the right picture in the mind of the reader - a very South African problem.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Diamond Member adrianh's Avatar
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    I just don't believe that the child was rejected simply because the parents couldn't pay the fees. Schools know the consequences of taking such harsh action. I think that there is more to the story. What happens is that a child is rejected and the parents go "Ah, I know why...." I agree, all kids should get quality eductation, but of course we know that its not going to happen anytime soon.
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    Full Member MadJan's Avatar
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    Thanks all for your feedback. This child is 6yrs old, first-timer :-). I know the family extremely well...i know of their financial status and living conditions. I also know the principal of this school rather well....my daughter was in this school 4yrs ago....what he has done is illegal by turning the child away, he has done this to other people in the community as well.....he also threatens the kids if school fees haven't been paid if there are outstanding fees.... i have heard a great deal of complaints from parents and kids alike....
    I actually phoned the principle this morning....changes his tune slightly, he says that we will need to get a social worker to see the family and assess their situation...blah blah blah...and he insists that he did not reject the child....BUT in the interim, this child is sitting at home twiddling his thumbs. So i am going to see the family this evening....i would like to go to the school with them and get him registered.....hope it goes well....
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