THE dream of free education in the country is one step closer to reality.
From 2011 more pupils will have access to free education.
The Department of Basic Education says it will decrease the number of quintiles next year from five to three. This is to ensure that more school children attend no-fee schools.
Naptosa yesterday welcomed the news. It warned, though, that the system would now have to focus on the quality of the education provided.
Naptosa president Ezra Ramasehla said: " In 2015 we will be way ahead of most African countries on easy access to education. We just have to deal with its quality."
This observation is crucial since the current roll-out of no-fee schools has drawn sharp criticism for its failure to properly resource such schools.
By September 2008, 58 percent of public schools (14264) were declared for no-fees. They benefited more than five million learners.
The Department of Basic Education says the current five quintiles will be reduced to three. The first three will be merged, spokesperson Granville Whittle said yesterday.
The government subsidised Quintile 1 at R855 per learner and R747 for those in Quintiles 2 and 3.
"For the purpose of free education, learners in the new Quintile 1 will have the same subsidy allocation
A quintile is a measure of household income. This is all the income generated by a family, including grants and other benefits.
In South Africa the government often uses a model that measures whole communities, not just individuals, which results in an entire school being declared a no-fee school.
"The Council of Education Ministers last December said we should come up with an appropriate model for no-fee schools because the current one is not effective. The quintile system is not helping the poor," Whittle said.
He said a new model would be developed by early next year and implemented in 2012.
Charles Phahlane of Gauteng education said: "We want to afford everyone the opportunity to indicate the category they want to fall into, but understanding the implications."