Independent schools seek Madonsela's help
AFTER years of fighting provincial education departments to pay subsidies, the National Alliance of Independent Schools Associations has now approached the office of the Public Protector for intervention.
The executive director of the Independent Schools Association of South Africa, Dr Jane Hofmeyr, said yesterday they had sent a 20-page report to Thuli Madonsela asking her to investigate maladministration by the education departments of Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and North West.
"The payment of incorrect subsidy amounts, the late payment of subsidies and the arbitrary reduction of subsidies to independent schools year-on-year amounts to administrative injustice and it's threatening the financial sustainability of some 630 schools educating some 130000 learners.
"Should these schools close, it will cost the state significantly more to educate the learners in public schools. Subsidising independent schools costs less than half a percent of provincial education budgets," Hofmeyr said.
She said it was unclear how much the provinces were owed for subsidies.
The organisation wants Madonsela to investigate:
- The KwaZulu-Natal education department for "incorrectly and deliberately not allocating an adequate amount in its annual budget estimates for subsidies to qualifying schools".
- The Mpumalanga department for reducing by almost 50% the subsidies to independent schools.
- The Limpopo department of education for failing to advise qualifying independent schools of the estimated amount of the subsidy that could be expected.
- Eastern Cape for underpaying subsidies since 2004 and that currently schools receive only between 30% and 35% of their money.
- North West for paying amounts without the required supporting information. In the last four years, the North West education department has not timeously given schools the required estimated amount of the subsidy for the next year.
On November 22, the Joint Liaison Committee (JLC), which represents 116 independent schools, and the KwaZulu-Natal department of education will meet in the Constitutional Court over subsidies.
The JLC is challenging the department for reducing subsidies by 30%.
Madonsela spokeswoman kgalalelo Masibi confirmed they received the compaint.